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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Slow Gardening

Slow cures for our gardens
Slow Gardening is a philosophical approach to gardening which encourages participants to savor everything they do, using all the senses, through all seasons, regardless of garden type of style. Slow Gardening applies equally to people growing vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruits, as well as those who tend to their own lawn, or have an intense garden hobby such as topiary, bonsai, or plant hybridizing. It actively promotes self awareness, personal responsibility, and environmental stewardship.

It's a no-brainer, comparing modern gardens to how we eat. In just a couple or three generations we've gone from eating mostly home-cooked food, and gardening with mostly local resources, to routine fast-food and "mow-and-blow" landscapes filled with plants from afar.
Waistlines have been supersized while garden sizes have withered. Why bother to grow when you can just run to the store and get prepackaged? Instead of sowing saved seed, we buy uniform hybrids by the six-pack, shipped to us at a huge cost. Sure, we've shed a lot of the menial work of putting both food on the table and flowers in the garden, but at what cost to the connections with the Earth that our ancestors took for granted?
Slow Gardening to the rescue! Similar to Slow Food(Tm) , an international movement started in Italy in the 1980s by convivial connoisseurs who savor producing, preparing and consuming traditional in-season dishes, a "slow-gardening" approach can help us enjoy our gardens year in and year out and possibly connect us with our neighbors. 

Some ways to enjoy Slow Gardening:

Take it easy - Life has lots of pressures: why include them in the garden? Your garden provides natural opportunities to kick back, relax, step off the treadmill. Think "long haul" and take your time.
Cliches can help: No need to go whole hog right off the bat. Don't have to eat the whole enchilada.

Grow plants of all descriptions -  native or well-adapted - that like your climate and provide something for you and local wildlife through all seasons. Include plants for evening enjoyhment, and at least a little home-grown food (herbs, vegetables, or landscape-quality fruit plants).

Get 'er done - You don't have to be an expert to garden, or even to work very hard. Even a small potted plant can help you focus on the "here and now" of everyday living. 

Get together - Gardeners have always been a sharing tribe. Find a safe group of like-minded folks who won't impose their expectations onto you or your garden, grab a digging fork and slip right into the rhythm of the seasons. 

Slow doesn't necessarily mean lazy. As Steve Bender, senior garden editor for Southern Living Magazine put it, "Maybe you can't save the whole world, but by slightly modifying the way you garden you can save your own backyard. And that's a start."


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