I am in the midst of planning our first Virtual Workshop for our Members at the Homestead, Natural Gardening for Beginners. I remember how steep the learning curve was when we planted our first garden seven years ago. I read dozens of books and visited hundreds of websites trying to figure out how to grow without chemicals in the buggy south. You can read the sordid sequence of my early attempts here.
We had more failures than successes our first two years, but Mike and I were determined to bring healthy food to our table for the sake of our three kids (two at the time). We had moved away from Mississippi during graduate school and had become accustomed to a thriving farmers market, a Whole Foods, and readily available natural foods.
Food is important to us. Mike is a physician and I taught special education for seven years. We were both first hand witnesses to the devastating effects of a crappy American diet. While we weren't very healthy ourselves back then, having kids kicked us into high gear for their sakes. When we moved home, there was no Whole Foods, farmers market, or even a healthy food section in Kroger (all three now exist along with a thriving local food community!) We figured if we wanted healthy food for our family, we were going to have to learn to grow it.
I remember the task seemed herculean. What every farmer and homemaker used to take for granted as common sense felt like taking a class in Greek. After three years I began to feel pretty confident in my ability to grow some food. Now, I feel confident in our ability to grow most of our produce. And we do it without using chemicals that harm our land and bodies long-term.
There are some very sure ways to success, and more ways to failure, in natural gardening where the climate and pest pressure is tough. The good news is, anyone can do it! Even if you do have access to organically bought produce, growing your own is more cost effective and it connects you and your family to your food system.
Why is this important? Knowing where your food comes from and how it affects your body is THE most important issue of our age - especially in a state rampant with obesity, diabetes, and food allergies/intolerance. It has changed our lives, and it can change yours too.
Knowing how to grow just a few of your own vegetables or herbs puts you in charge of what goes in your body, and it is incredibly empowering. I've enlisted Matt Heblon, who works with my husband, as my Gardening Guinea Pig. He has wanted to grow his own garden for years, but not known where to start. My challenge is to turn him into a Green Thumb in his own backyard. We will also cover growing in container gardens.
As we finalize the series plans, I need your feedback. I want to make sure we answer all your questions from the ground to the table. Please take a second and list your pressing questions and doubts about starting a garden in the comments below. I have already gathered quiet a few good ones from facebook friends, but we want to make sure this series is comprehensive. Please share away!
Thanks for your help!