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I garden, therefore I am

14 Nov

“If you have a mind at peace, a heart that cannot harden, go find a door that opens wide upon a lovely garden.”

Who would have ever thought that I would have developed green fingers. Certainly not the people who know me best! But I think I knew all along that I would get to this point. Everyone has felt that deep knowing at some point in their lives. Somehow I have always known that I was meant to get my fingers dirty and watch things grow. I think it was something that was always written into my soul and now that I have started, I am fully absorbed.

“The garden is a mirror of the heart.”

Make no mistake, it takes both time and money (both of which I have in short supply), but it takes patience and determination too (and I have that in bucketloads!). My garden will never be perfect, and there will always be more weeds needing to be pulled up. But I love it with a passion that still surprises me. Every now and then I stop and ask myself: seriously, this??

I recently dug up all the grass in my front garden and planted flowers everywhere. Every morning and evening I inspect them and enjoy them. I know it keeps me grounded and present and grateful.

“Gardening is the purest of human pleasures.” — Francis Bacon

My greatest pleasure this month has been my veggie garden. Most of it started off as seeds planted in a tray and they have grown into a substantial veggie garden! In my little veggie patch I have:

… tomatoes, beans, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, gem squash, lettuce, chillies, green peppers, rocket, cucumbers, strawberries, spring onions, chives and herbs (rosemary, origanum, basil, mint, parsley, coriander). And there is more on my “want” list.

Last week I made a vegetarian bolognaise with fresh herbs. Today Adam and I picked lettuce, chives and herbs for a salad (and he even ate the salad!). I can’t believe that I won’t need to buy prepackaged lettuce or tomatoes this summer. I can have a fresh salad whenever I want it.

This evening, just after the sun had set, I stood and watered my garden. Peaceful, quiet and perfect.

 “One who plants a garden, plants happiness.”

The future is what we make it

27 Mar

Take a big step and do one thing to reduce your carbon footprint today. Do one thing that helps to save or conserve the earth’s resources. You don’t have to do everything all at once. Just pick one small, simple thing that can make a difference and do it today. Then, next week, or next month, do something else.

Here are a few easy suggestions for becoming more environmentally friendly.

  • Replace one light bulb with an energy efficient one. (Remember don’t thow these bulbs away in the rubbish – most Woolworths stores have a box where you can get rid of them)
  • Plant a tree. The rule of thumb is: “For every 5000 km you travel in a car or for every 5 hours you spend on a plane, you should plant 1 tree. If you never travel in a car or a plane, you should plant 10 trees to neutralize the effects of your household.” In South Africa, consider planting indigenous trees only (these include the Fever Tree, Cape Chestnut, Pompon Tree, Wild Pear and Forest Elder among others).
  • In the shower: install a low flow shower head. Put a bucket in the shower and use it to water household plants. Or simply shower with a friend 🙂 .
  • Don’t leave your appliances on standby. Don’t charge your phone overnight. Switch the light off when you leave a room. Don’t leave your computer on. Be conscious of  when and where you are using electricity when you don’t actually need to.
  • Washing your clothes: Consider hand washing, in cold water, a few items of clothing every day. I wash Adam’s clothes by hand each night while he has a bath. It’s quick, easy and better for the clothes. And it saves a machine wash load at the end of the week. Also, consider using a clothes line rather than a tumble dryer.
  • Buying food: try buying organic food where possible. Use reusable, shopping bags (cloth is the best). Become aware of your food’s packaging. Recycle it if you can and choose the option with the least packaging, or refuse to buy over-packaged goods. Consider what fruits and vegetables are in season and buy those – chances are they are more local and have spent less time in storage or transport. Give canned and frozen foods a skip. Find organic or farmer’s markets and try to support them whenever possible. Choose one or two (or more) days a week when you eat food produced within a local radius of where you live. Buy fresh fish from the harbour. Also, when buying fish, make sure that it is part of the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative – look for the SASSI logo. Eat less meat, or at least be choosier about the meat you eat.
  • Avoid buying bottled water. Rather set up a purification system in your home and carry your own fresh water around with you.
  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. If you live in my area, you have an easy solution. They will collect it from your front door. Fill those clear plastic bags. My rubbish has reduced from 2 large black bags a week to 1, sometimes 2 small bags. As soon as I start a compost heap/wormery, it will be down to almost nothing. It makes a difference, it really does. If you are not lucky enough to have it collected with your weekly rubbish, consider getting someone to collect it. At work we use a company called Recycle 1st.
  • In your garden: Plant edible plants (start your own “farmer’s market” in you back yard). Plant indigenous, waterwise plants. Respect the water restriction guidelines and water only in the early mornings or evenings. Use organic compost. Or start a wormery. Try and find a way to store and use rainwater in your garden. Find organic ways to control pests and avoid pesticides that are harmful to the environment. This book is a great resource: Jane’s Delicious Garden. And it is South African, so it is full of useful and relevant information.
  • Your Geyser: consider installing a solar panel. Invest in a geyser blanket. Turn down your thermostat by 1, 2, 3 degrees. Or more. Switch your geyser off when you go away and won’t be using it.
  • Calculate your carbon footprint and commit to reducing it by this time next year.
  • Finally, if nothing else, consider switching off your lights tonight at 8:30pm.

 

#45 of 1001

7 Mar

I have just re-read my spur-of-the-moment lists that I created and comitted to. And I am a little freaked out. And just a tiny bit intimidated by some of them. What was I thinking…?

Anyway…

As I am typing this, I am getting ready to cross off something off my list. As I am typing this, it is the hottest night of the summer. The house is like a sauna. But I have a gentle breeze blowing over me. The night is sweet and cool and precious.

And I am sleeping outside.

Here are the stars, not the best photo, but they are there… I promise! If you look carefully, you will see Orion’s Belt (3 stars in a row)

My son is lying spread eagled next to me and went to sleep counting stars and reveling in the novelty of setting up a bed outside. Sorry about the fuzzy photo – it was hand held and it’s dark dammit!!

I am about to take him inside to sleep in his bed. Also, I hear thunder… so maybe I won’t be out here for much longer.

Yup, there’s lightning. The air is taking on the scent of a thunderstorm… it is incredible!! I can’t help thinking that I would have missed all of this if I had decided to spend the night indoors.

Oops, more lightning and thunder. I guess I can’t cross it off if I don’t actually sleep? Ah, well… next time!

Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit.  A few of those days and you can become drunk with the belief that all’s right with the world.  ~Ada Louise Huxtable

 

(p.s. I’m now indoors and we are having an awesome thunderstorm. I am literally awestruck. The beauty of this day and night is incredible)

OPEN!!!!

28 Dec

More “open” – slowly but surely she opens… my pretty baby….

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Blossoming

21 Dec

blossom

It turns out that I have green fingers. Who woulda thought.

(please pause while we wait for everyone to wipe the tears of laughter from their eyes…)

Okay, everyone under control? Yes, it is true. It appears that I like gardening. Not only that, gardening seems to like me. For the last 5 years (give or take) I have been slowly cultivating a wilderness of weeds in my back garden. Anyone who has ever been to my house knows this to be absolute truth. Weeds as high as your knee, as far as the eye could see (well, to the cement wall actually). I.did.not.do.gardening.

Recently, after a significant someone hightailed out of here, I took a good look around and decided to do something about the state of my wilderness. I got stuck into the weeds and many weeks later, with calloused and cracked hands, sunburn in strange places and literally blood, sweat and tears, all the weeds kindly removed themselves from my “lawn”. After much watering and fertilising and sweet talking, lo and behold, I now have green, green grass. Apparently the grass is not greener on the other side after all… aghm, yes, back to my garden…

 I learnt how to mix cement and lay bricks and built myself a rather nifty little pathway. I flanked it with wild garlic, Agapanthus and other stuff I don’t know the name of.

path

Adam and I water the garden almost every day. The Agapanthus rewarded us right away and sent up arching stems with buds on the ends. Everyday we go outside together to see how far they are and if they have opened. Adam understands that we are waiting for them to open and that because we water them they are happy and will give us a flower. We have been waiting patiently for them to open. It is all rather exciting. And today, the first one finally opened. That’s her photo at the top of the post. I feel like a proud Mama showing off her baby!!

pink

This little  pink flower above suddenly turned up on a bush I thought was dying. Apparently it is thriving. I love my garden. Again, I have to ask – who woulda thought?! I have even created a herb garden. So far I have Mint (did someone say Mojito?), Rosemary and Basil. Lavender, Lemon Verbena, Chives, Rocket and Thyme are on their way. The other day I had fresh mint in my salad and basil in my pasta. Can you credit it? Me, eating stuff I actually grew…? Oh, and I have a rose garden too.

Of course, the symbolism behind it all is pretty clear. Turning something that was once ugly into something beautiful. Watering and nurturing until you are rewarded with a perfect blossom. A spray of colour. The scent of sweetness. Even when a flower dies, a few days later you can start to see the shoots of new flowers pushing through. Growth.

Someone commented to me the other day that I seem to have blossomed in the last few months. Opened up. The correlation between me and my garden is not lost on me. Viva la Garden.

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