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Why did you start a garden?

 
Posts: 49
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I think that to a lot of people, gardening is intimidating. It's hard to start, and some people (cough-me-cough) just find it hard to start because they want everything to be PERFECT.
I made a post on my blog about reasons to start gardening. Not the sort of philosophical reasons you see a lot of places. But concrete reasons. And I got to wondering.

Are any of you guys the type to over-plan? What are some of the reasons you started your gardens?

My biggest one is financial honestly. I'm cheap and want high quality goods dangit!

https://www.alexisrichard.com/reasons-to-start-a-garden/'
 
Posts: 19
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I've always had a garden, growing up and as an adult. Stuff just tastes better. Neatness has it's place but gardening probably isn't it. I'm glad you're growing your own. Keep it up and keep experimenting!
 
pollinator
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If I recall correctly, I started out with one tomato plant. I just wanted a better tasting tomato on my sandwiches. It's difficult to be a mess-up with just one plant. I bought it at a farm market, planted by my kitchen door. It made tomatoes and I became hooked on gardening. That was decades ago and things just evolved from there.

In my own opinion, trying to be perfect is just setting myself up for failure and disappointment. I'd rather just experiment, learn, and evolve. Much more fun. I've been gardening on various scales for decades now. I still have failures. My gardens always change as I think about ways to improve things. I never try for perfection.
 
Posts: 46
Location: Northwest Missouri
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After all the backbreaking work of starting a food forest, I've asked myself this very question lately! I feel like I'm just COMPELLED to grow. Liking good food and having a family history of gardening probably contributes. Definitely started out with lots and lots of research trying to make things perfect. Then you learn a lot of what works in the real world and your unique situation and things start to be more intuitive over time. I have no idea why I jumped into permaculture itself. Guess it just felt right, like a natural conclusion to all the "normal" gardening I'd done up till this point.    
 
pollinator
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Both sides of my family had come from an agricultural life, but my parents had abandoned that and were involved in commerce in town/city circumstances. I got interested in an organic-food diet, which led me to personal contact with organic farmers. I rented a tiny cottage on an organic farm and began to learn little bits from the farm family.  Then I wanted my own land and wanted to learn all the skills involved in living that way.  One thing naturally led to the next... with a lot of trial & error, and various failures & successes.

Never regretted taking the first steps.
 
pollinator
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Tomatoes. I was doing some backyard maintenance on some overgrown raspberries, and I chanced to remember planting and tending to tomatoes in the same spot as a small child with my grandmother.

I happened across the concept of companion planting upon searching a bit on tomato gardening, and that led me to permies. I've been growing ever since.

-CK
 
pollinator
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I came to this lifestyle by way of prepping.  It just makes sense to have my own more stable food supply.  Prepping evolved into more permie-type activities until I pretty much removed myself from the typical prepper mentality.  I still believe very much in being prepared and having resilient systems for water, food, heat, shelter in place, but gardens and food forests, chickens, bees, ponds, come from a place of peace and happiness, rather than the typical fear and doom and gloom that seems to surround many prepper types.
 
gardener
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"because it's cheaper than therapy"


Seriously, when I was a small child my mother always had a garden, because she was brought up by women who had survived the depression through their own gardens. Once I had the space to plant, I wanted to learn. It's taken me a few years to go from crimes-against-plants to kinda-farmer (and the rabbits get most of the credit, honestly) but I truly believe in the power of dirt and leaves and sun to work miracles. When I feel depression looming on my doorstep, I take a mental health day and work in the garden. Get my hands dirty and turn over some dirt. It reminds me that life persists and miracles are everywhere.

Edited to add: in practical terms: I like to eat and cook. Where I live, you can't get much in the way of unsprayed things, and some things I like you just can't get at all (Japanese and Chinese greens, kale, yellow sweet potatoes, bok choy, dill, asparagus beans, asparagus......). So I grow them myself.

Loofahs (and bunnies), Christmas beans, organized chaos (turmeric, okra, nappa cabbage, broccoli, many other things)

 
Alexis Richard
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Wow I'm so amazed that tomatoes are the beginning for so many people!
 
gardener
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I started gardening simply because I loved growing things, especially plants.  Growing up we usually had a large garden from which we harvested months worth of potatoes every summer.  I can remember eating nothing but baked potatoes for what seemed like months on end.  We used to grow strawberries and got so many that we completely filled an entire upright freezer with them with plenty left over for fresh eating and lots to give away to our neighbors.  Mostly the garden was my mother's area of expertise.

The house I grew up in was built brand new for us and we moved into the house when I was 5.  It was nice to have a new house, but the yard had absolutely no trees when we moved in and the central Illinois summers could get brutally hot.  We planted numerous trees around our 1/2 acre yard, and by the time I was about 11-12, some of those trees went to seed themselves.  I was excited to see all the trees so I collected all the seeds I could get and planted them in every patch of dirt I could find in our yard or garden (it never occurred to me at that time that I could not grow a tree right next to the north side of our house, perpetually in the shade!).  Of the hundred or so seeds that I planted (they were silver maples, easy to grow), I had about 20 young seedling trees that looked promising.  There was room in our yard for 4 more trees, so I took the 8 best looking trees and transplanted them in pairs in areas around the yard that were sunny, not too close to the house or septic field and were generally appropriate for trees, and hoped that at least one of each pair survived.  In fact, all of the little silver maples survived the first year and I had to thin by digging up the least healthy-looking sapling.  I transplanted those 4 saplings (along with the other 12 trees not initially selected) to our eccentric neighbor's home.  He owed 2 lots, one on which he built his house, and a second one so that no-one would be able to build right on top of him.  As is was, that extra lot was right across the road from my home.  He let me transplant all 16 seedling/saplings thinking that they would not survive--they all did!  By now those additional 16 trees are large, beautiful trees that cast a lot of shade.  

Some don't like Silver maple trees because they are messy trees and don't have spectacular fall color.  I loved them because I could plant them with ease.  I still love to look at those trees today, tall and gorgeous as they are.  

This was my first experience with really growing something, and I knew right then when the little maple seedlings first sprouted that I would always love planting things, whether they are other trees or vegetables.

Eric
 
Posts: 53
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Tomatoes are the gateway drug to becoming a full-blown permie, haha.

I started because I bought a house, and wanted to plant some fruit trees.  Banana and papaya were the first ones.  Then I quickly started seeing available land in a new way, and felt like I had to maximize my use of it.  Ended up taking out all my grass, planting dozens of trees and perennials, getting loads of wood chips, building garden beds, making my lawnmower obsolete.  Addiction ensued.  Now it's my livelihood - recreation, exercise, therapy, FOOD, and social activity.  Not to mention motivation since there is always something new and exciting to learn or observe.  I love the experimental nature of gardening - no matter how much science you apply, you still never really know what's going to happen.

Since I live on a small plot in the city and can't expand my gardens indefinitely, the next step was to start a nursery.  Now I sell fruit trees, natives and perennial veg at a local farmers market, design edible landscapes for customers, and I garden at several friends' houses.

And, as I've gone through life's ups and downs, I've found that the best thing for mental health is always having something to do, a goal to accomplish.  That can be something as small as pulling weeds.  You get a feeling of satisfaction from completing a task.  Whenever I feel stressed, gardening is the answer.  It has seriously improved the quality of my life in so many ways.

I think I'm gonna cry now :D
 
gardener
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I've always had some sort of garden, I think I was around 6 when I got into popcorn, my grandfather knew a man who was crossing different popcorns trying to come up with one he liked.
I managed to get some of each of the man's varieties and started growing them so I could give plant breeding a try, my grandfather helped me but so did his friend who gave me the seeds.
I learned to keep records of which plant I crossed with what other plant and I had to tag each of the ears I was experimenting on, it was really the beginning of my love of scientific method.
I may do this experiment again and make a blue popcorn instead of the red one I did back then, or maybe I'll try for a multicolored popcorn this time, and call it Fiesta.

Wolf and I both grew up gardening food stuffs, for about ten years I got side tracked into roses, melons and fruit trees but now we just work on creating something we love the flavor of more than our "standards".
Kola Lofthouse shared some new tomato seeds and I'm going to be crossing those with my Cherokee purple subspecies this year and share those seeds with him.

Redhawk
 
pollinator
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Tereza Okava wrote:"because it's cheaper than therapy"


Seriously, when I was a small child my mother always had a garden, because she was brought up by women who had survived the depression through their own gardens. Once I had the space to plant, I wanted to learn. It's taken me a few years to go from crimes-against-plants to kinda-farmer (and the rabbits get most of the credit, honestly) but I truly believe in the power of dirt and leaves and sun to work miracles. When I feel depression looming on my doorstep, I take a mental health day and work in the garden. Get my hands dirty and turn over some dirt. It reminds me that life persists and miracles are everywhere.



I've found it interesting to have the opposite experience with people in my family. My grandmother and her family survived the great depression the same way, farming their own food. It had little impact on them. Once grown and out of the house not a single one of them ever grew anything again. So my mother grew up on a suburban lot with grass. She loved growing and planted a garden which she used as a punishment for us kids. Misbehave and you'd be sent to weed.

Now I have a little farm and my grandmother cannot fathom why I want any of it. Weird!
 
pollinator
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Cooking Shows! mainly Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage series:
 
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Started gardening as one of my chores as a kid so I never gave it much thought.

Years later I went at it with more gusto because of the variety. Instead of having 3 types of tomato to choose from I had dozens of varieties. How about peppers, Jalapeno and Habanero weren't hot enough, fine I'll grow Trinidad Scorpions and Carolina Reapers. A recipe calls for fresh herbs, I'd rather step out the back door than hop in the truck and drive for something half as fresh.

Then it hit me, the best part of growing your own food is the feeling of peace and being one with nature. I've helped myself and a lot of people relieve stress just by showing them how to start a small garden, even if it's just a few plants.
 
master steward
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Alexis Richard wrote:Wow I'm so amazed that tomatoes are the beginning for so many people!



Tomatoes were actually one of the more recent things I've started growing--being in the Pacific Northwest, our tomatoes are prone to late blight. I watched my mom's big tomatoes die year after year before she ever ate one. I figured if she couldn't grow them, I didn't have a chance as a beginner! I still only grow cherry tomatoes, and lose half of the fruit to blight in September.

My first plant I grew was mint. My mom let us pick out plants at the nursey. I remember picking mint because I could eat it. I actually just dug up some of that mint (it took over my mom's garden, and is still there in places, even though she tries to remove it!).

I started gardening because I loved picking beans and cherry tomatoes as a child, and gathering herbs for soup as a teenager. And I wanted to grow my own food to save money and have yummy food. My first garden was in a pot at our rental. We nearly killed our raspberries and the few annuals we grew in a pot. But, the raspberries survived long enough to get transplanted to our property. Every year I start a few more garden beds, and each one is so different from the other. A lot of plants don't grow for me, but every year, more does. And, there's always berries! I say start small and make more beds every year do the best you can with the knowledge you have, and keep building knowledge and experience as you go!
 
gardener
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My mother was given a teatowel as a present, covered in lovely pictures of vegetables. With the towel came a packet of carrot seeds. My father cleared a little patch of garden and I planted the seeds. I was overjoyed to see them come up and kept pulling them way too early, but I was hooked. I think some may have got to a child's little fing size and they tasted so fresh, a little crunchy as I ate them with the dirt still on, but as Mum said, you eat a peck of dirt before you die. I have my Mother's ashes, and a little pinch goes in with everything I plant.
 
pollinator
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Now I like growing tomatoes. But it wasn't why I started gardening.
If I think back in time, I can find two reasons. First there was my parents' garden. We moved to that house when I was 10, it already had a large garden with fruit trees and a small strip of diverse vegetables and berries. My mother continued that garden, my sister and I helped her (sometimes).
The second reason was someone telling me about permaculture, some time in the 1990's. Although it took many years before I really started applying permaculture (and doing a PDC course online), since that time I did try to grow at least some edibles (like berries, currants, herbs).
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
gardener
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For most of us gardeners in the UK we grew up with Geoff Hamilton on Gardeners' World
Watch and read the comments!

 
Tereza Okava
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elle sagenev wrote:I've found it interesting to have the opposite experience with people in my family. My grandmother and her family survived the great depression the same way, farming their own food. It had little impact on them. Once grown and out of the house not a single one of them ever grew anything again. So my mother grew up on a suburban lot with grass. She loved growing and planted a garden which she used as a punishment for us kids. Misbehave and you'd be sent to weed.

Now I have a little farm and my grandmother cannot fathom why I want any of it. Weird!


I hear you!! my siblings grew up the same way I did, and would rather starve than eat a veggie, much less get their hands dirty (gasp!). Different strokes, I suppose.

@Amanda: my mother was enthralled with Jim Crockett, who had a show on public TV in Boston in the 70s. There don't seem to be any videos of them floating around, unfortunately, but his book is still in my mother's library and I remember reading it. He was a great teacher. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Victory_Garden_(TV_series)
 
pusang halaw
pollinator
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Amanda Launchbury-Rainey wrote:Geoff Hamilton on Gardeners' World

In a league all his own, not only was he a fantastic gardener, he was also a classy gentleman (without ever coming across as posh), and a wonderful educator who enthuses and entertains his audience. Geoff should be (posthumously) knighted! and by the time i got into gardening it was Alan Tichtmarsh doing the show. But i treasure my copies of The Ornamental Kitchen Garden, Cottage Gardens and Paradise Gardens.
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
gardener
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Pusang - I have those too! I watch them a couple of times a year. Do you remember the one with the family in a block of flats who turned their balcony into a jungle? And the guy who made his roof into a garden complete with recorded birdsong to mask the city noises?
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
gardener
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Tereza Okava wrote:.

@Amanda: my mother was enthralled with Jim Crockett, who had a show on public TV in Boston in the 70s. There don't seem to be any videos of them floating around, unfortunately, but his book is still in my mother's library and I remember reading it. He was a great teacher. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Victory_Garden_(TV_series)



Tereza - back then there was selective viewing with the family and great programming. I grew up with wildlife and science documentaries and anything to do with gardening. I was shocked when my brother told me he records Big Brother when ge goes out for an evening...
 
pusang halaw
pollinator
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Amanda Launchbury-Rainey wrote:Pusang - I have those too! I watch them a couple of times a year. Do you remember the one with the family in a block of flats who turned their balcony into a jungle? And the guy who made his roof into a garden complete with recorded birdsong to mask the city noises?

I sure do! my favorite bit was the octogenarian gentleman who's been gardening since the 1920s - he talked about fertilizing his potatoes with pig manure. Also the bit about "night soil" and how it fell straight down the chute into a collection area at the garden. Each and every episode is wonderful and i highly recommend everyone on this thread to look up the great Geoff Hamilton.

p.s. i binge watch the 3 programmes at least twice yearly too! 😃😃😃
pps: where did you get your copies? i miss thebox.bz
 
Mandy Launchbury-Rainey
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Amazon.co.uk
 
pollinator
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Mom & dad let me have a little row when I was in middle school. I planted radishes. 21 days of delayed gratification was all I could muster at age 10. I had told them: I don't like weeding: I pull and pull and pull and I never get anything out of it. [They liked carrots, turnips, parsnips] I didn't.
Mom thought it over and let me have a little spot. I had to plant, weed and water my little row.
It wasn't much but it got me started.
 
gardener
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Because... I can't NOT. Not being able to, for the last decade has driven me bsfc. It's like I've been holding my breath for 10 years. I tried fulfilling this drive with potted herbs & veggies, for the 3yrs prior to that, but I don't do very well with that type of containment. Even so, I tried hard to suffice with a few shade - loving house plants, over the last decade, but it was a pathetic, inadequate, wasted effort. They all died, and I felt like I was slowly wilting, right along with them. We have land now. We have SUN, now! I need this, like I need to breathe - even though I may have to learn all over, again.
 
Alexis Richard
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Y'all. Some of these stories have me in tears. Anyone else feeling that bittersweet feeling that comes with remembering your childhood?
 
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Mid'70's, due to back-to-the-land mentality, Whole Earth Catalog and so on...

It was in St. Louis Co., Missouri, West Country. Grew in the back yard borage, hyssop, thyme, sage, squash, corn and 420. This resulted in my first cup of sage tea which was memorable! Also had my first experience with insect pests, in the person of squash bugs.
 
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So out of college i got a job in the "Big City" 4 hours away from home.  Lived there with my wife in an apartment for 1yr and found out we were expecting our second.  Too big for our apartment now we ended up buying a house on just under .25 acres.  Being that far from home i missed some of the things i'd always had growing up.  Among those was gooseberries.  So it all started with some gooseberry starts.  Then it was peppers and tomatoes in pots....then last year i finally built a raised bed.
 
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I was brought up a totally spoiled child.  I have had a garden for as long as I can remember.  I was born in Dayton and dad and mom had rented a little house with a back yard that was converted to a garden.  Planting, weeding and picking,  is just a normal part of life for me.  We didn’t have money, but we had a bunch of food.  We would raise about a quarter acre of strawberries to pay for new shoes and clothes for school.  I remember going to kindergarten and being made fun of because, my clothes were not up to the modern standard.  I couldn’t understand why they got free lunches, and I had to pack my lunch.  If they only knew how hard we worked to have britches and food, they may have been a little nicer.  Its ok though, it all made me who I am today.  A few years later we got to build a cabin on our own land. We got to have a huge garden.  Dad gave me my own area to grow and raise whatever I wanted.  By the time I was in junior high I was making compost tea so I didn’t have to buy fertilizer.  I grew half of my own feed for my rabbits and all of the feed for my chickens.  I could afford feed because, a bunch of people in the area wanted rabbit meat.  At the age of 10 I had a nice little camper, a fire pit, animals and my own garden.  I only went in the house to get cleaned up and eat because, I can’t cook to save me.  After the chores were done I would experiment my day away.  The only thing that would make me cry is when mom made me go to school.  
 
This parrot is no more. It has ceased to be. Now it's a tiny ad:

The permaculture playing cards make great stocking stuffers:
http://richsoil.com/cards


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