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Green Thumb
Posts: 310
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 2:25 pm
Location: NW Georgia

Why do you garden?

I've been reading on here for a while and I've noticed there are about as many "gardening styles" as there are people who post. So, why do you garden? What do you want your garden to be?

My husband and I moved heaven and Earth last year to get ourselves out of the city. We left good jobs, planned for major lifestyle changes, etc. Now our world couldn't be more different, and for me, the garden is an integral part of that. I'm looking toward small-scale farming and true self-sufficiency (well, food and water; fuel remains a problem I haven't got a good plan for). It's just my first year, but I'm beginning to see how that would be possible in five or even fewer years if I'm willing (and able) to put the work into it.

That's why I garden -- it's part of an effort toward living lightly on the Earth and providing for our own needs. I don't know how successful it will be, but every step along the way is an improvement over where we were.

Why do you garden?

Full Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon May 26, 2008 5:48 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

It sounds like you have a great plan - best of luck with that. My reasons for gardening are mainly so I can see beauty in my own yard, feel that I have accomplished a very challenging task and hoping that I will be able to have a few cut flowers from time to time in my house from my own flower gardens. Since I work from home it is nice to be able to look out the window and see some of the efforts I have made in my very own back garden. When I drive into my driveway its great to see some beauty and it makes me feel good.

Charlie MV
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 11:48 pm

We lived on a boat for the last few years. It was a great lifestyle pulling our food right out from under the boat. Some health issues helped us decide to add on to my mother in law's house and move in to help her. We found ourselves with a 2 acre pretty much empty palate to grow food, flowers and plants in general. I still enjoy the idea of pulling food out from under my feet The main expenses are cow poop and a few other soil augments which cost next to nothing. It keeps me fit and I get to keep my tan in the deal.

We're also big bird watchers so that's another perk. We've recorded 56 species so far and a few who weren't supposed to be in this neck of the woods. We learned on the boat that we could attract dolphin right to our back deck by playing this weird CD where a guy made "music" by sliding his finger around wine glasses. For some reason this is sex to dolphin. They would gather in a semi circle behind the boat with just their noses poking out of the water and listen until we stopped the music. I miss events like that but watching a house finch the other day chase a red tail hawk away was almost as cool. We also have an albino squirrel who comes to the feeder. I normally don't care for squirrels but this little white guy is welcome.

I think the biggest attraction to gardening is you do it all yourself...great entertainment.

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Greener Thumb
Posts: 1023
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2007 7:50 pm
Location: England

To me that is like asking why does an artist paint or an author write.
It is in my blood. I can't help myself nurturing nature. As a child I would rather watch a spider spin a web or a bird build a nest than watch the tele or go shopping! I had my first flower garden when I was a kid.
Nature is so utterly absorbing and I have to help where I can. If a plant is struggling I have to make it better. A tree is covered in ivy, I have to pull it off. I have rescued more animals and birds than I can remember.

I come from a family of gardeners. I helped my mum with the flowers and my dad with the edibles. (I would shuck the peas and eat more of them raw than ever made it to the pot.)
Gardening is one of the few occupations in life that isn't stressful. Plants don't argue or want a lift somewhere. They never want you to make the dinner or iron a shirt.
In short gardening is an addiction, my drug.

Senior Member
Posts: 264
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 11:13 pm
Location: Denver, CO (zone 5)

I garden to eat. I don't like the tasteless food in the stores. I don't like knowing that most of what comes from the store is laden with chemicals I can't pronounce and that may be applied secretly. I have fruits and vegetables and herbs that are so flavorful that I wish I had been serious about gardening long ago.

I garden to see. Before my gardening days, life was all about work. Then I wanted to see more birds since I spent so much time barely noticing their existence. There are so many colors and textures to see by sowing a few seeds and digging in the soil to give a shrub a new home.

I garden to hear. I live in the city but sometimes being in my garden I can almost forget all but the nearest noises. I can hear the birds louder than the traffic of the major thoroughfare that is just half a block away. I hear whirring wings and know it's a Mourning Dove, little taps on wood have me turning to see if I can spy the woodpecker in the trees. I know the bumblebee has a buzz that sounds like it is burdened and the bumblebee has a higher pitched buzz. When a cacophony of bird sounds erupts, I know the birds are warning each other of danger. I hear the thrashing of tree limbs when the squirrels are playing. It's almost refreshing to me to hear the grackles bathing in the birdbath.

I garden to feel alive. I wake up each day feeling a part of life. The city life is hectic and fast-paced and at times dangerous. It is a rhythm that is a complete contrast to real life. It is where I work and earn a living, but to feel alive I am living in my garden with the bugs, ants, birds, bees, flowers and food and life is gentle but very important. The garden is a place to remember what life is and forget the life I must lead until I can return to my garden. When I return, my curiosity is boundless as I look at leaves, follows spiders, take wonder in the big flowers that unfolded from tiny seeds, inhale the scent of the same flower a bee just abandoned, smile when a bird almost missed by presence when it ventured close for a drink from the birdbath, and find joy at the sweet taste of strawberries without chemicals and the pungently sweet aroma of tomatoes almost ready to eat.

There are too many reasons I garden. Mostly, I garden because I can and love it.

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Jenny this is a great thread! Thanks for starting it.

Why did I start gardening? That is a question. You know when I was a child growing up on a farm (every child should grow up on a farm) it was my brother who had the green thumb and I didn't want to have anything to do with Shoveling the Stalls or working in the soil.

Fast forward 20 years and I'm the guy with my hands in the soil, shoveling dirt, manure, used coffee grounds and the list goes on and on.

Anyway, I started growing plants in my window sill (which I have learned is a bad thing) as a teen. After a few years in University I as living in a shared accomodation and wanted to grow my own veggies to save money. I ended up moving the garden into the spot that my Stepgreatgrandmother had tended 30 years ago. I decided that I didn't want to use all the herbicdes and pesticides and stuff that the rest of my family using because I liked to eat stuff right out of the garden.

I soon discovered that working the soil was very therapeutic, I became involved with some online garden forums and an organic gardening club. I volunteered at the the local Horticultural Center and read every book on gardening that they had (I worked in the library). I also researched soil mechanics and faunal/floral interactions in peer reviewed journals and attended lectures with the garden club and continued trying new things in my garden.

Found a lot of peace while working in my garden. And still do, and love watching my soil grow from a sandy, dead soil to a rich, vibrant ecosystem.

My family, often gasps when they see me shovelling away and remark about all the work. But, I don't think of it as work. Enjoy working in my garden.

This year I've been really busy working on a new business and a few other things and haven't been in my garden as often, also the weather has been cold and wet and not climated towards planting a garden. But, I've been busy working on other peoples gardens so, thats fun.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

I grew up at a time when all kids helped their mothers weed and water the garden. They were assigned chores back then. When a member of the community got sick or was injured, kids were sent down the road to weed and water their gardens while adults cut their hay and we kids bailed it. That's just the way it was. There was no money to buy store bought produce and dairy cows need to eat throughout the year too so missing a cutting of hay could be devastating. I gardened back then because I had to. My mother let me buy a few strawberry plants once. I was around 5 or 6. They were mine and I weeded them and watered them without being asked to do so. That was probably the start of me being interested in gardening.

In college, my room had lots of plants. Most ended up half dead. Other kids brought me their half dead plants. I killed them. Started working and going back to school and made no time for plants until my husband and me bought our first home. There's that urge to keep up with the Joneses that overtakes most of us new homeowners and we were not immune. We cut our lawn and planted a spattering of ornamental plants. That was it, that was about all we were interested in making time for.

Wasn't until we bought our second home that I began taking an interest. The previous owners of that home had traveled a lot and brought home all types of strange plants. The wife had been an avid gardener and was a member of several local gardening clubs. Their home was opened to public garden tours. Keeping up with her plants was more than I bargained for. It had all looked real nice when we bought it however I had no idea of the time element associated with caring for all of those plants. I did admittedly remove many of them. Created a sand box where once a bed had stood, added a kids playhouse where another bed had stood, created a large dog run, and created more lawn in other areas. I did leave many areas in tack. The house was removed from the garden tour. I learned a lot "gardening" at that house.

That brings us to this home. We bought this land about 20 years ago because of the natural areas on the property and believed it afforded enough space for kids to be kids. It's been an ongoing learning experience. I've been gardening in the natural areas in attempts to revegetate using natives while additionally attempting to restore any locally native flora in hopes of bringing back the native fauna since long before there was even a house here. I garden around the home to appease my husband who wants some curb appeal (me, I'd go native to the front door step because I love critters). I have a hobby orchard that I garden in because we like fruit. I've long been propagating for sport (there's my true love). I grow plants specifically to use for educational programming in the community and I grow plants to donate to use in restoration projects with a focus on woodies. I just started to take vegetables seriously this year so I'm beginning to learn about organic gardening. I have a greenhouse because I realized I became a plantaholic many years ago and "needed" a place to grow threatened and endangered native plants that I've been using when teaching workshops, running training sessions, and speaking at seminars. I create educational programming for educators to use in classrooms and not so surprisingly... focus is on North American native flora and fauna (gardening for wildlife) with a major emphasis on invasive species and the havoc they wreak in our fragile ecosystems. I still volunteer in the community helping to remove noxious weeds and invasive species. I don't know how it happened but I turned into a gardenaholic and it was a gradual process and I'm loving it. I will probably be laid out in my casket with dirty knees and fingernails complete with a mud swipe across my brow but that's ok with me.

User avatar
Green Thumb
Posts: 435
Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 1:58 pm
Location: Litchfield, Michigan

I'm a 6th generation farmer, possibly deeper (I haven't gotten much deeper than 3 great grandparents)... So growing things from the earth is in my blood. For the 34 years I've been alive there has been a garden to supplement the family food supply and in years of abundance, the family income. For me it is not a novelty or a feel good measure, it is a way of life, always has been. I do take pride in what I produce in the garden though, just as I take pride in how I run my operation as a whole. I am also of the mindset that if you are able, do it yourself and if you don't know, teach yourself... self sufficiency is becoming an antiquated part of life...

Garden Spider
Cool Member
Posts: 88
Joined: Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:07 pm
Location: Western Washington

I garden because it's the only form of therapy I can afford. :D

I don't garden for food, although this year, I am going to try growing some "Bright Lights" Kale, some red Romaine Lettuce, and a salad mix--I bought those to provide a seasonal cover for an area where I have bulbs planted, and we might as well eat them if they grow. Also just bought some strawberries and a blackberry plant for containers.

I garden primarily to provide myself with a sanctuary. Several years ago, when my job was very stressfull, I'd go outside in the mornings with a cup of coffee for myself and a soft pad for my heart dog, and we'd sit on the front porch and watch the flowers grow. When pain and exhaustion from Fibromyalgia get me down, I sit outside on warm days, between the herb garden and the Woodland Garden, just outside the back door. I listen to the bees humming on the Rosemary, I can smell its resiny scent, and the warm sunlight eases the aching muscles and joints. On cold or rainy days, I sit in the armchair by the front window, and watch the birdbath under the Japanese Maple. Birds seem to prefer that one, probably because the Maple provides a dense cover for it. Planning the garden gives me hope, something to look forward to, when I feel better: Yes, I'll move that flower here, this flower there, remove that shrub, prune this, stake that, and I want these new perennials and shrubs, and where shall I put them???

I garden for wildlife. My garden isn't yet the wildlife sanctuary I want, but it's getting there, slowly. I have food, shelter and water . . . and I'm gradually adding more plants, removing those with little wildlife value and replacing them with others that have higher value.

Mostly, I garden for me. When my garden pleases me, I can see how it cheers up people who walk by--I can see them turn to see the flowers, and they smile. Human beings need gardens, need flowers, need trees. I believe without green, growing and blossoming things, our bodies may survive, but our souls will shrivel and die.

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