This is an entry in this month’s contest “What Inspired You To Start Growing Your Own Food?”. Be sure to rate this article!
I started gardening at the age of 14 when my parents started fighting and chaos ensued. I found calming peace and stress relief when I got my hands in soil and grew plants. My first garden I dug up myself. It was a rocky, clayey, hilly 12 inch high rows sort of vegetable garden. I planted and used chemical fertilizers. Our ground is hard clay. It makes adobe houses. Because the soil was hard without compost, the plants grew slowly and had lots of pests. I grabbed my first pesticide and killed all the bugs eating them. Then, I realized that the bugs that I killed were ladybug larva who were eating the aphids! That was life changing moment: I murdered baby ladybugs. I stopped using pesticides for all the bugs. I started learning what a good bug looked like, and what was a bad one. I became involved in researching, then acting. I found the Ruth Stout, No Work Gardening Method. I put 6-8 inches of mulch on my vegetable garden. Because I was a kid without a job, I started digging holes and buried our kitchen vegetable waste to make soil by putting the kitchen waste into a hole and put layer dirt on it, adding until the hole filled up. When I reached my 20’s, in an apartment, I had no garden. Therefore,my motto is, don’t let life stop you. I got 2 yard waste baskets, put them no each side of my apartment door, lined them with a black garbage bag, filled them with potting soil, added vegetables, and hid the leafy vegetables with flowers; I would grab some lettuce leaves to make a salad, or cherry tomatoes. But the big test came when my husband was laid off and we had children. I wish I could say, I was prepared, but I wasn’t. Did you ever wonder what it would be like not to feed your kids? Did you ever look into their shining young faces and know you may fail them? We did have Y2K supplies. How many ways can you stretch beans? How many ways can you find to cook them? I said, never again. Gardening saved us. For the next layoff, 95% of our food came from stored beans, grains and the garden. When lettuce was $4 a head, we were eating lettuce. We were enjoying broccoli. cabbage. tree collards, spinach and Swiss chard. At this time, I now calculated my husband has been laid off 17 times since 1998, has reinvented himself to 7 different jobs using the skills he already had, and as of 10 days ago, has a permanent job. But for the last layoff which finally got him a permanent job, the December 2014 layoff was the best. Like the exam you had prepared for and ace, food was aside in a freezer. We had a great garden. We had a well stocked pantry, and chickens with eggs, we actually ate better during the layoff than usual. How’s that?! I splurged and pulled out the freezer food I was saving for company. I used the garden fully instead of spreading the harvest out. I grabbed the can goods that I might have used for a party. I used the practice that a life-time of training gave us. But gardening not only saved us, but inspired me, I went and applied for a Saturday Adult Ed class teaching gardening. I’ve never done anything like that before. I now teach 80 gardeners as an Adult Education teacher. So it saved us, gardening gave us peace in a time of trouble as we fought to find jobs. It gave us food so we didn’t just survive, we thrived, and finally, gardening became an income. Just as Marjory has used this for good, gardening is the key to a life-saving, self-sufficient life. My self-sufficient daughter just worked her way through school with the help of the free student community vegetable garden; she ate most of her food from her garden. She taught 2 other students how to have food for themselves too. She hooked them on gardening when she invited them to dinner, but first they went to picking, then prepared it, and then they ate. Writing this for me isn’t about winning the prize; it’s about making a statement that Ms Wildcraft is right. My Adult Ed students need to know that gardening can change your world. People need to know gardening can change your world. The key is to garden for life.
The prize for the winner of this months contest is valued at $100 and includes a copy of the “Grow Your Own Groceries” video set, “Alternatives To Dentists” video set, and 3 months of free membership in the Core Community. If you want to enter this month’s contest, write an essay on “How You Got Started Growing Food” and submit it here at this link: http://growyourowngroceries.