Angie and I are often asked how much time we spend taking care of our garden. Truth is, we couldn’t begin to guess. When the outdoor garden has become just one more living space for us, then it’s much like keeping the indoor living space clean. You pick up a bit here, you wash up a bit there. It’s part of the daily routine. But it’s more than that, too.
First, we have about the same amount of leisure time to just sit and read a book, play a game, or watch a program on TV as we’ve always had. But some of our leisure time used to be spent going to the boys school and extracurricular activities, or taking long bike rides. Now it’s spent in the garden. I’ve only ridden 500 miles during the first 6 months of 2014. That used to be 1000 or more. We used to go to lacrosse games, school music programs, or parent-teacher meetings. Now we’re in the garden more. Our garden grows commensurate with our time to dedicate to it. And we’re OK with that.
Second, we’re discovering how to put into practice the Permaculture principle that every problem carries with it its own solution. For instance, weeding used to be a horrible chore that we put off too long and later regretted. Now, we weed a little bit most days as part of our foraging for food. One, as we integrate instead of segregate to create diversity and plant guilds, we wander our garden much more. That lets us quickly spot and pull immediately weeds when they’re small and easy to harvest. Two, in doing so, as we collect food that we grew for ourselves, we are also collecting the weeds as forage for our chickens and rabbits. Weeding is no longer a problematic chore, but a relaxing part of caring for our livestock.
I’ve been learning a lot from Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass as I follow her journey to reconnect her indigenous heritage and indigenous knowledge with her academic training as a biologist. One of the things she highlights is the breadth and depth with which indigenous people are intertwined as one with the land in which they are geographically located. Gardening as chore or even hobby is something you carve out time for. Gardening as existence within the living body of the single organism of holy creation, with us but one cell, is timeless.