I never liked gardening. I like to joke that I have both a literal and figurative “brown-thumb”.
In fact, I distinctly remember groaning when my mother asked me to come plant some peppers in a container as a teenager.
But here I am as an adult, posting pictures of my 1/4th acre garden/orchard on the internet.
So, what happened?
I had 3 children in 5 years, breastfed (while pregnant) while eating fruit and veg that was organic.
Then I developed anxiety and panic attacks, my teeth started chipping, my daughter's teeth enamel started flaking off onto her tooth brush and eventually she had to go under general anesthesia at the age of 2 to get caps put over her teeth.
All the while, I was eating my organic everything in what I (and many patient friends of mine) would now call my self-righteous “healthier-than-thou” phase.
While trying to treat my anxiety and depression naturally, I came across the concept that malnutrition was the cause of most chronic disease. As I researched, I found out that many trace minerals and vitamins like ( B-vitamins and magnesium) would reduce and eventually eliminate my chronic anxiety and depression, and that these nutrients were supposed to be the most plentiful in the food supply.
I didn't understand.
I was eating ORGANIC fruits and vegetales..how could I be chronically nutrient-deficient?
My best friend told me about a man name Paul Gautschi who lives up in Washington state; he has a huge garden that he doesn't have to till, water or weed. There was a documentary film made about him and his gardening method, so I watched it and all the pieces started falling together.
(watch the "Back to Eden" documentary here: vimeo.com/28055108)
The soil was the answer.
In the documentary “Back to Eden”, Paul Gautschi talks about how the nutrient density of the food is completely dependent on the nutrient density in the soil. For the past 100 + years, there has een a systemic shift in how we produce our food. Food is no-longer grown for hardiness or in organically fertilized ways, and as a result our food has become less and less nutritious overtime. Even organically grown produce couldn't catch up because the organic matter in the soil (and even the top soil itself) has been lost after all these years.
This was my answer! I was eating as best as I could, but the vitamins and minerals weren't in the food in high enough quantities to replenish my body of what it had lost.
Paul Gautschi uses a heavy, deep-mulch method (which has come to be known as the “Back to Eden” method). By not tilling, and constantly adding organic matter (composted manure, straw, composted woodchips, grass clippings, etc) on top of his garden, Paul has been ale to grow HUGE fruit and vegetales that are full of water and taste amazing.
I wanted this, but at the time had no space to put a garden. We had just moved into the back of a heavily wooded subdivision with a ridiculously steep back yard.
However, we did have about .89 acres of land (half of which is heavily-wooded, steep and scorpion-infested!) and there was a spot on the side of our house that was pretty flat, but essentially a forest.
We decided we would try to have the trees cut to make room, and alhamdulilah we found a group of loggers that came and took away 9 (!!!) truck loads of timber wood from out property for free!
After that, we got several truckloads of free composted horse manure from the local fair-grounds to place over our tough Georgia clay. We paid some local landscapers to grind some of the stumps, then paid for someone to scrape and spread out the manure.
We were all in. We had to make this work now.
After the ground was prepared, we made our first beds, planted some potted plants and started the process of getting chickens to produce a constant supply of compost (and eggs, too!).
When you have a garden, you have to find a way to get as much stuff for free and make it pay itself off.
That was 3 years ago, and since then we have cut a few more trees, planted lots of fruit trees, cane fruits, grapes and the once balding plot looks lush and productive.
SuhanAllah, it is amazing how fast things grow.
Every year, we learn more, the soil gets more fertile and the produce from it becomes, bigger, tastier and more nourishing.
I love the garden now. I will sometimes go do “work” in the garden just to relax and see the fruits of our labor.
My little ones are growing up knowing more about plants and herbs than I did 4 years ago. They pick and taste what grows as they explore. They get excited to see all the life that has flocked to our little clearing in the wood; the birds, butterflies, chipmunks and insects.
I planted a garden because I wanted more nourishing food for me and my family. It has far exceeded it's intended purpose.
Our garden is nourishing our lives.