Do you know about all of the health benefits to getting your hands dirty in a garden?
In this article you’ll learn about gardening…the problems it solves, its benefits and my experience gardening at Gaia Ecovillage Ashram.
What’s your problem!?
That is, what are the problems you have that gardening solves?
You may suffer from illness on a regular basis – like colds, flu, or other nasty stuff. You my be tired and your brain and body simply don’t function as well as they could.
Why garden…what are the benefits?
Gardening is much like permaculture. In fact, it’s often a big part of permaculture so you realize much of the same benefits. But there’s even more to it when dig beneath the surface…
You’ve heard about all the benefits of good bacteria and probiotics, right? But did you know that eating your probiotics isn’t the only way?
As you may know or already guessed, you get good bacteria and probiotics from healthy organic soil simply by getting your hands dirty. This helps diversify and improve your body’s microbiome so that you have more energy, you’re more resilient and your body just functions better.
What did I learn and experience in the gardens at Gaia? And what can I pass on to you?
As you learned a bit in the last article on permaculture, a permaculture garden is meant to be very much natural and self-sustaining – so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time maintaining it.
Unfortunately this didn’t quite seem to be the case with some of the gardens at Gaia. But maybe that’s just my personal experience.
Taking Care of the Garden can be like Caring for a Baby
My aversion to gardening may stem from my memories of working in the home garden when I was a kid. The one memory that sticks with me the most was that my Mom would give me a paper grocery bag and send me out in the garden to fill it up with weeds.
As a kid that seemed like some kind of punishment bordering on torture. The bag seemed enormous and the amount of weeds I would need to fill it would seemingly take up an endless amount of time.
So, when you fast-forward to the present, the resistance I feel around working in a garden seems to make some sense.
Vegetables are Weak
And, yes it is hard work! Especially growing vegetables – like tomatoes. In this case at Gaia, the tomatoes – like many domestic plants – simply can’t support themselves. So we humans have to put in a lot of work to ensure that vegetables are healthy.
We have to make sure they have enough nutrients in the soil. We have to pull weeds. And we have to make sure the plants don’t just fall over and die – so we have to build structures to prop them up and support them.
As much as I enjoy eating vegetables, I question if they’re worth all the work to care for…
Because it’s nearing my bed time, that’s all you get for now.
In the next article you’ll learn about a way of gardening that requires much less maintenance. Until then…
Bonus: Direct from My Journal
I have some mostly unedited stuff below that you can read to see “how the sausage is made” so to speak when it comes to my writing. Enjoy!
Edible plants – raw/cooked
In the morning we worked in the garden pulling weeds, standing up tomato plants and fertilizing. I didn’t really enjoy this work because I didn’t really understand what was considered a weed and which were the real plants. It didn’t always seem obvious – especially with the garlic and onions because they look a like grass. I may have killed a good portion of their crop :/
Later today (Friday the 13th) I did some more gardening with Tom. I was tired from all the activity – especially after spending the morning in the fields getting straw and then I took a walk in the midday sun and heat after lunch. Tom was good at explaining what he was doing and all of his ideas. He also demonstrated the work before having me do it which was useful. Now I’m almost certain that I pulled out a lot of good plants from the garden the day before because I mistook them for weeds.
On Thursday morning and afternoon we worked in the garden putting in support structures for some of the plants already there – like tomatoes – and also planted watermelon and cucumber.
Before putting in the support structures, we had to harvest them by cutting and processing bamboo. I spent most of the morning doing this. I thinned out one of the bamboo plants by sawing them off at the base. It was hard work as I sawed, sweat and was serving as food for the mosquitos.
In the morning on Friday I helped out with wrapping up planting cucumber in the garden. It was good to get it done but otherwise nothing really exciting to share around that experience.
Jason Breaking Stuff
… Except, perhaps, that, while digging up the dirt with the tool I was using, I punctured a hole in the watering hose. And I did this just moments after Maria warned me about being careful not to hit the hose! Thankfully Maria was able to quickly repair it by cutting out the punctured section and connecting a new piece of hose.