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How does your garden grow?

June 23, 2009
We have one, little, purple pepper sprouting!

A tiny, purple pepper from the Indiana Humanities Council's victory garden.

It’s amazing how much better fresh vegetables taste when you’ve grown them in your own backyard.  You understand the work that went into planting and tending them; you’ve tracked their growth and development like you would a small child, counting down the days until you can pluck them from the Earth and place them in a salad bowl.

I haven’t always felt that way. When I was younger, I was my dad’s designated garden helper. I loved working outside, but not in the weedy, hot, buggy garden. I despised weeding around bean plants and hated breaking them and taking the ends off even more. I convinced myself not to like green beans so that I wouldn’t have to pick them. It didn’t work. But I still went through childhood hating plenty of veggies.

Then, in my twenties, something radical happened. I started to try vegetables I gave up on years ago, and—walla!—I actually liked them. It turned out that I loved spinach, I could tolerate broccoli, and, yes, I even found out how to enjoy steamed green beans.

I became a gardener at home (by my own free will), and this year, a gardener at work (check out pictures of our garden, here), which exposed me to an even larger assortment of vegetables. I had gone 26 years without eating a fresh radish and I spent 26 years removing radishes from salads and avoiding them on assorted vegetable trays. I had never eaten kale, or swiss chard; never picked snap peas off a plant and ate them while standing in the garden. And in one month, I’ve know done them all.

Gardening has provided me with delicious and healthy food, but also a way to connect with my dad, my co-workers, and my fellow gardeners at the Mayor’s Garden Plots. It spurs conversation, reduces my reliance on commercialized vegetables and makes me feel better about myself and my community.

How does your garden contribute to your own personal growth?

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