When we started our urban garden in 2013, we didn’t start small – we went all in and planted way too much to manage. Admittedly, we were overzealous homeowners. Several landscaping revisions, forlorn tomato plants and abandoned cold frames later, we honed in our expectations and started to make better use of the space to produce only what we really love (and also what the neighbors love…we share a lot come late summer). Even so, that doesn’t give us any more hours in the day and there are some weeks when the garden grows a foot higher before we even notice. What we do notice though, is how much of our daily hours are spent working, in front of a computer screen or otherwise not engaged in being outside which is, ultimately, what make us the happiest. That’s why we have a garden first and foremost. Our outdoor therapy is unquestionably important to our wellbeing. It also happens to be delicious, and makes city living feel a little more connected to where our food comes from.
When it comes to wellness, it’s easy to be almost too conscious about what we’re doing right and wrong. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the headlines about diet and nutrition, self care and supplementation, meditation and exercise and setting boundaries and stress management and all. the. things. Most of the clients I see every day don’t even know where to start – so they don’t. At all. They’re at this impasse where listening to their own body just isn’t a reasonable option. Regarding nutrition alone there are literally a hundred different guidelines and not a single one is designed just for you. So I have a plan I give out to every single person I see: Just do more. If you’re eating only one serving of veggies per day, try to make that two. If you’re only eating three different fruits all the time, try to make that four by the end of the month. If you’re only drinking 8 ounces of water a day, try to double that by the end of the week. I keep an organic garden because this is my version of “more” for where I am with my health and happiness This is my more time outdoors. My more connection with the earth. My more colorful foods every day. My more time with my husband. My more intake of sensory nutrients. My more gut health focus. My happy place.
In late summer, the surge of all things abundant and juicy start to slowly wilt and wither away. It’s a slow, almost unobservable transition but it starts to happen right around the time I start to slowly come down off of my summer high and let out a deep exhale. Things start to droop and dry out around the same time my energy reserves putter to a slow spin. It’s an ideal time to harvest the last of summer’s bounty and store away for the fall. It’s a quiet time in the garden. A heavy, humid and regenerative time. It’s all I want to do to spend an afternoon tearing out tomato plants after a week in my office, tethered to my email and mentally on and engaged. Garden time is like this expansive all encompassing mind pillow that’s like, “Hey overworked-cyber-ravaged-hard thinking-sleepy-wired-brain….chill with me a while and lets cover you in microbes to get that computer smell off of ya….”. Oh man, it just wraps me up for a few hours and I forget what was on my to-do list altogether. Self care gold.
Currently, we just planted more beets and chard with a handful of extra squashes and zucchini’s and lots of pole beans. I’m in the beginning stages of planning a summer herbal tea garden (sooooo excited about this!) that I’ll be sharing more of next year. We also just put the finishing touches on a hand-built outdoor kitchen in our backyard that truly makes my love of garden to table instantaneous. Moderate self sufficiency is a large enough goal for city living. (That, and perpetual activism these days.)
Read more: Urban Garden | Spring
Photos by Renee Byrd, my sister garden fairy angel.