Guest Author - Barbara Gibson
While doing some research on organic and local food I came across a wonderful article in the spring issue of the Dirt; a publication of Georgiaorganics.org. The article, by Stephanie Van Parys who holds a degree in Horticulture, is titled What Every Summer Garden Needs to Grow!
An avid gardener and Executive Director for the Oakhurst Community Garden Project in Decatur, Van Parys offers four tips that guide her planting decisions. Does it taste good? Is it easy to grow? Is it easy to harvest? And is it fun? Using these selection criteria, Van Parys offers her picks for the top vegetables, herbs and flowers for summer gardens.
These are: tomatoes (the good news is even if you arenít ready to commit your knees to the dirt, or you simply donít have the space, tomatoes are great container plants); peppers (you can also grow these in containers with almost no effort), eggplant, sweet potatoes, Black-eyed peas, cucumbers, soybeans, basil (imagine the culinary masterpieces this herb will complement), soybeans, zinnias and sunflowers.
Van Parys offers great advice, particularly for those gardeners that for whatever reason want to keep it simple. It could be that you are just starting out, you have limited time for maintenance or youíre gardening with kids and planting only what offers the greatest chance of success. No matter, it isnít necessarily what you plant, but that you plant. For some, gardening is as natural and necessary as sleeping or eating. If you are among this group, you know why.
Every passionate gardener has reasons that are uniquely their own. I once had a co-worker that planted a garden because it reminded her of the special times she shared as a child with her mother. She couldnít imagine herself not gardening.
I planted my first tomatoes and peppers because I wanted to put my hands in warm dirt. I looked forward to watching, even nudging the transformation with water and care. I felt proud and excited bringing my first vegetables in; as if I had been part of something miraculous.
There are probably as many reasons to garden as there are gardeners. For example, do you want to eat locally? You canít get much more local than your own backyard. Also, there is something almost magical about growing. Seeds, planted and tended with our hands, are transformed by our partnership with sun, soil and water; the process reminds us of our connection to the earth. It also reminds us to slow down, to be patient. Here is where we reflect, clarify and build self-awareness. This time can contribute to and support our decision to live with intention.
Another benefit - gardening is a great way to enjoy some of lifeís greatest pleasures: the feel of the sun on your face, the joy of sharing your bounty with others, helping something to grow.
If youíve ever eaten tasteless fruits or vegetables, you know there is another benefit of gardening. MmmmÖit just doesnít get any better.
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