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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why we garden

This column originally appeared in The Daily Bite from Bakespace.com, a daily newsletter of food, kitchen and gardening information.

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Why We Garden
by Douglas E. Welch

Listen to Why We Garden

To those uninitiated, or perhaps uninterested, in the gardening world, gardeners can seem like fussy, badly dressed Earth Mothers and Earth Fathers rummaging around in our yards. Well, at least that is what I probably look like. In reality, though, we are all gardeners in our lives, even if we don't actually go out and mess about in the dirt. We are constantly gardening in our lives. We plant the seeds of relationships, hoping they grow deep roots. We prune our lives of detritus and those things that weigh us down. We even raise our own offspring and hope they find a wonderful life on their own. We are always engaging in the act of gardening, each and every day.

For those who cook, bake, saute, braise, broil or roast, the connection with the garden shouldn't be seen as something distant and odd -- something only done by people wearing big, floppy hats or Wellington boots. Our ingredients come from the Earth and its nutrients create everything that we are. We garden because it is an integral part of our lives. Every cup of flour, every bit of sugar, honey, maple syrup, herbs, spices and more come from someone's garden, somewhere. With each ingredient we bring into our kitchens, we bring a bit of that garden with it.

So, why not make a little garden of your own? The easiest, if the most stereotypical, way to bring a garden into your kitchen is with herbs. A couple of pots on the balcony, the back stoop or the windowsill go a long way to re-establishing the connection between kitchen and garden. Watch out though. I have seen these little herb gardens steadily grow into larger and larger patches, with tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and more -- in only a few years. Once you experience the joy of growing something, and then using it in your own cooking, it is hard to shake it.

The next time your are in your kitchen, take each ingredient in hand and think a bit on where it came from. Even if it was grown in some large, corporate, farm, it still came from the Earth. It grew out of the constituent parts that make us all. Think of where it came from and what it gives us. Think of what it brings to your kitchen, your table, your life. Then, as you enjoy the fruits of your kitchen labors, give some thought to how each piece melded together to make a whole that is more than the parts.

As you think on this, consider yourself a gardener. Even though you might not turn a spade of dirt, knock the soil from freshly harvested potatoes or gently pinch basil leaves from their stems -- you are still a gardener. There is no way to avoid it. We are all gardeners, each and every day and the more we recognize that fact, the better off we will all be.

For more gardening information...

Subscribe to A Gardener's Notebook podcast using iTunes
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Read or Subscribe via RSS to my collection of gardening items from Google Reader


Anonymous Survival Seed Bank said...

I like this sentence: "In reality, we are all gardeners in our lives..". It's really a beautiful way to describe our lives, our relationships with other people and our place in the world. Dave

1:11 PM  
Blogger Douglas said...

Thanks for the kind words. It is truly what I believe. Everything is interconnected and I the thought came to me that the way we live our lives is very much like the way we garden.

Thanks for reading A Gardener's Notebook and taking the time to comment.

2:23 PM  

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