I don’t buy it

Over the years some have dismissed my growing, dirty passion of gardening as being “not for them”, or laughing it off with “we’re so different”, or saying, almost proudly, that they “don’t have a green thumb”.

All things that I’ve not really known how to take, because, actually, we’re not “so different”, we all have to eat and drink from and walk on the earth beneath us. The planet has to be fit and healthy to provide food, water, shelter and air for us all, not just the different ones among us.

Through history people have had next to no choice in sourcing their food from the land immediately surrounding them, it is only in the last fifty years or so that this has changed in Australia.

The “Dig For Victory” campaign in Britain during WWII had near on the entire population growing food so that they could survive the war. It is actually inspiring scientists to measure the contribution of own-grown food to national production in Britain today. There was no: “This is not for me” back then.

Because we actually are the same, they too have to eat. Their alternative to growing the food that they eat is to buy it. So, presumably, growing food is “not for them” but buying the food that other’s have grown, sprayed, shipped and displayed is “for them”.

Well, let me say that that’s not for me!  (Though I do buy what I can’t grow.)

Is this just an ignorant statement, as I find their statements to be? No. Because it is based on information. It is an educated response based on the possible destructive impacts of monoculture, the long-term impacts of pesticides (including on bees) and fertilisers on crops, our bodies and the wider environment, the impacts of transporting food hundreds of miles to a local grocery shop and the waste that is emitted from the supermarket backend due to unsaleable products and in our kitchens due to food that is undervalued in terms of personal effort.

I was not born a gardener. I’ve eaten food all my life as every other living person also has, in just the same way, thereabouts, as every person I am in contact with in my daily life.

I am no different, but I have educated myself about the impacts of my actions. I have not always known how to grow a carrot, in fact I don’t even consider myself very good at it today, because actually, it grows itself, I have just had to learn how to provide a favourable environment for it, though I still often kill things. My husband often groans at my slap dash approach, so if I can do it, anyone can!

It’s been year after year of learning and accumulating mistakes and lessons until I can finally cobble together a garden which does give me beans, tomatoes, corn, carrots, cabbages, squash, lettuce, herbs and numerous other offerings as well as a tranquil environment which soothes daily troubles and assuages the need to go out for my entertainment – while providing a venue for my own visitors.

It is a full on benefit in every way, there really is no downside!

It could be that this is a mere matter of semantics, in which case please don’t do yourself a disservice with your words, instead try something like this: “I tried that and I gave up” or “I’ve killed everything I’ve tried to grow”, or even, “I’d like to learn how to do that”.

You can do it! I believe in you! Growing things in a garden is just a matter of learning how (and it’s so easy) and a little bit of discipline.

* I will concede that modern pressures can leave us exhausted at the end of a full work day and pottering in the garden can feel like a torture best left undone. This is entirely understandable but does not leave growing a small plant or two completely out of reach!

The hardest part is to get started. Start small: a pot of Thyme on the bench, add some Basil in Summer. Next Summer grow one tomato bush. Leave the carrots for later.