Why I Love Growing My Food
Outside of yoga, another thing I am passionate about is gardening—namely growing edible plants like herbs, vegetables, and fruits. To me, raising edibles is an extension of mindful eating--something that often becomes important to us yogis as we progress along our path. And there’s no greater quality food you could consume than a plant you’ve raised yourself using organic methods.
Growing edible plants is also extremely empowering, because I don’t have to depend on commercial farms—at least not for the entirety of my family’s food. I save money on produce in the long run, and when I have a bountiful harvest, I can trade my excess for a neighbor’s free-range eggs or some other fruit or vegetable I don’t have in my garden. Indeed, bartering has connected me with other likeminded, self-sufficient people in my community and makes me feel like I am not trapped in a system of consumerism.
I currently have 64 square feet of vegetable beds, several fruit trees scattered around my yard and plants like sweet potato, aloe and pineapple that grow well within our landscaping. When I’m on top of my game as far as keeping the plants well-fed with compost or organic fertilizer and harvesting at regular intervals, my husband and I can get around 50-60% of our produce from the garden. There have been times in the past--when I had larger vegetable beds and favorable Florida winter conditions--when it was closer to 100%. To get the best yields, I need to put in 1-2 hours of work per week in the garden.
But you don’t need to have anything as extensive as what I have to get some of the awesome benefits of growing plants. An investment of 10 minutes per week can be enough for a small-scale project. The easiest place to start is with potted herbs (here’s a list of some of the easiest ones to grow), or by planting vegetable seedlings in containers on your patio. I recommend Tasteful Garden for ordering organic herbs and veggie plants, and EarthBoxes for the easiest veggie growing experience. Beyond that, the best advice I could give is to invest in quality organic soil, and continue to amend that soil over time with compost (which you can make at home or buy at garden centers).
Just like people, some plants are very forgiving and generous, while others are finicky and high-maintenance--but all respond positively to your attention and loving care. But there is a limit. Like humans, plants also need their space. I find many people (including my past self) who think they lack a green thumb are actually just overbearing plant parents! Have a little faith in your plants and don't fuss over them too much. Give them the inputs they need--sun, food, and water--and let them do their thing.
If you do venture into the world of raising plants, you are likely to find a deep reverence for these incredible green beings. It’s impossible to care for something that in turn gives you so much and not feel thankful—even if it’s simply an herb that you snip a time or two a week to add to your dishes. Each species of plant has its own personality and survival mechanisms; it is fascinating to learn about these miraculous life forms. Going through their life cycle with them is a powerful, eye-opening experience that connects you back to your food in a way nothing else can. So needless to say… I can’t recommend growing your own food more!
I'm happy to answer any questions or read any thoughts you may have on the subject--feel free to leave me a comment!