Sowing the Seeds of Summer

by Yaakov Lehman
With the last of the winter frosts well behind us, many of us may now be considering planting a garden. For those that have never experimented, growing fresh herbs or vegetables can be an unbelievably rewarding experience. In addition to the tasty fruits of ones efforts, gardening proves to be quite a tranquil and meditative experience: healthy body, healthy mind.
However, gardening is not an especially easy hobby to pick up. There are many problems and complications one can run into, ecological concerns not being least. Here is a quick list of steps that can help you get started on creating a sustainable garden in your own home.

  1. Know your environment. Research the climate, soil type, animals, and other ecological factors in your locale. This knowledge will prove invaluable to all future gardening ventures, and is worth investing some considerable time and effort.
  2. Choose the right spot. There are many subtle aspects of choosing an optimal gardening spot in your backyard. Slope, shade, soil, etc all prove very significant in gardening pursuits.
  3. Know your species. Choosing the right species of vegetable is very important. Each species requires different levels of attention, water, sunlight, and time. Having a thorough knowledge of your plants will also help in detecting problems later on in the process.
  4. Healthy soil. If external soil is needed, seek out organic brands. Consider starting a compost bin in your backyard to reap the benefits of a sustainable food system in your own home. Use fertilizers responsibly, choosing an environmentally friendly brand and not over applying the product.
  5. Manage pests responsibly. Critters can be a major nuisance to your garden. Correctly identify the problematic pest, and choose a solution that is least impact on the environment. Many organic farming techniques call for introducing beneficial organisms to the area to counter the destructive ones. There is also a variety of organic pesticides. Changing conditions of the garden (over-watering, improper mowing, etc) also can help. Ample knowledge of your plant species as well as environment will help.
  6. Use water responsibly. Over-watering cannot only be harmful to your crops, but is also detrimental to the environment. Choose plants that do not require a lot of water, especially if you live in a very dry climate. Consider drip irrigations systems.
  7. Enjoy yourself! Gardening is not merely a means to an end. It is a process and experience that in itself, is extraordinarily valuable. It is as a great technique for stress relief, and can become quite a rewarding hobby. Through gardening, we can become intimately acquainted with the most fundamental mechanisms of life on this planet. Further more, with the proper approach, great wisdom can be extracted from understanding these amazing and perhaps eternal forces of life. Enjoy!

For Further Reference:
Guidelines for Earth-Friendly Lawn & Landscape Care: see “National Garden Month”
Originally printed in “On Eagles’ Wings” June 6th 2007