Updated: Jun 18, 2020
Getting Dirty is Good - Let's Garden!
Gardening is in my blood. I’ve been raised by gardeners. My entire family still enjoys getting into the dirt; it's rewarding therapy. While gardening produces beautiful flowers, and delicious food, it also feeds my soul. I get a great sense of satisfaction when I have a beautiful garden. While gardening produces beautiful flowers, it's mostly the time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life that rejuvenates me. It is sooooooo rewarding to spend time in nature. There’s nothing quite like getting so close to the earth that you can smell the fresh soil, and notice the small insects and textures of the organic particles that provide plants with nutrients to grow.
Our Italian grandparents were focused on growing vegetables and herbs. In the late summer months there would be a plethora of tomatoes, zucchini, swiss chard, green beans and other oddly ginormous squash. Regardless of the items grown, it was quite an impressive bounty. When Gramps was in his 70's, and potentially at the height of his gardening career, he logged his harvest, and would boast about with a huge smile - all while offering you some fresh produce. (Note to self: ask dad if he has that log book!)
My mother grew flowers, flowering shrubs and roses. They provided a super sweet aroma and a parade of blooms throughout the warmer New York months. Both were rewarding to me and I now grow as many different items as I can squeeze into my small yard with vegetables, herbs and flowers all mixed in together. This is a layout that I recommend, if you don't need to fence off grazing intruders like bunnies or dear, mix up your gardening. There's no need to segregate the beautiful flowers from eatables.
I'm estimating my gardening days began around the age of 7. Grandpa was stoked that it was 'planting day' and arrived to our home with packets of seeds and several starter plants. He coached me and my siblings on what needed to be done, showed us how deep to make each hole - that it mattered depending on the seed (who knew?), how to water them carefully when the planting was finished. Grandpa continued to teach me valuable gardening lessons throughout my life. I've never forgotten those lessons and can still hear his voice at times as I play in my own garden, 30+ years later. Love you Gramps!!!
Some may consider gardening a passion of mine. While I'm certainly passionate about gardening, I find the act to be extremely calming to my mind and soul. I enjoy connecting to the earth and appreciating what the energies of our earth, atmosphere and universe provide for us. It's mind blowing when you actually consider how a seed turns into a plant, that in turn provides us with beautiful flowers and delicious nourishment. It's really impressive!
I've grown (or tried to grow) almost every vegetable, herb and plant possible at this point of my life. There are great successes at times as well as occasional disappointments. Living in Las Vegas, NV has certainly provided its share of gardening challenges for me. Excessive heat and sun as well as drought conditions are certainly challenging to the desert gardener but I've found many plants that thrive here. My first major garden successes in Vegas were lavender plants. There is a certain amount of care that goes into growing any type of plant and I learned that the particular varietal of lavender that I had in my yard preferred soil watering (as opposed to overhead watering) and it was (luckily) planted in the perfect sun/shade conditions to thrive! When I had a ridiculous abundance of lavender in my yard, there became a need to 'do something' with it that was functional, since I'm a functional kind of gal :) I learned through a local co-op that this herb could be added to carrier oils in order to benefit our skin, so I tried it and loved the results! Zeeta Body was literally grown in my garden and we still garden our own lavender for use in our Las Vegas Lavender Oil.
Gardening is addictive to some and frustrating to others. To be a successful gardener (especially a successful Las Vegas Gardener) requires perseverance and patience. It's not always as easy as adding seeds to soil and watering them. Factors that are beyond our control can foil even the best gardeners' plans; weather, animals (wild or domestic), bugs, to name a few. Patience is always required. This year it was my own excitement that taught me a big lesson. I literally smothered the newly planted Lemon tree in my yard. As spring sprung in the Vegas Valley, I added citrus 'food' to the soil at its base, and watered it diligently as the temps and daylight increased. Turns out citrus trees don't like this kind of attention (again, who knew?). I literally smothered it with too much attention and it proceeded to tell me so by dropping all of its leaves. ALL of them! :-( Arborist Brad to the rescue, who reminded me that citrus trees like to dry out and don't require much love at all - in his words
"Let it be a tree. It will figure it out". Words of wisdom for many things in life, huh?
Success in the garden should not be measured by the bounty it provides but by the peace of mind and connection to earth that you can personally achieve by spending just a few hours gardening. Ground yourself, strengthen your root chakra and get dirty.