In today's ultra-modernized mega-supermarkets, a bag of potatoes or a bunch of fresh daisies is only an aisle away. Yet more and more people are rediscovering the joy of gardening and watching plants and flowers grow.
There is something grounding about digging your hands into the rich soil and placing a tiny kernel beneath. It speaks of faith and hope and commitment in our throwaway society. It takes faithful tending to produce the edible or beautiful fruits of labor. It takes hope that what you plant will grow. Commitment is needed when faced with weeks of bare earth, heat, weeds and insects.
No matter what dedicated gardeners may tell you, it is not really about saving money. Sure, you can grow your own food, but weighed against your time and effort, not to mention the cost of fertilizers and insect and weed controllers, are you getting your peas and carrots any cheaper than a quick trip to the local grocery store?
The answer lies somewhere between practicality and passion. Gardening relieves stress and brings families, friends and neighbors closer together. Ask anyone with dirt under their fingernails and worn patches at the knees why they like gardening and you will get surprisingly similar answers.
"It is peaceful. I can see God's creation at work. Besides, I like to get dirty." - Lucinda, Fargo, North Dakota
"It soothes and calms my spirit. The flowers and plants bring color and beauty to my home and make it more welcoming." - Ellen, Williston, North Dakota
"I like working with the earth. We love the fresh tomatoes and cucumbers and the kids have fun growing pumpkins for Halloween. It's my alone time, what I do just for me." - Jeff, Fargo, North Dakota
Some people enjoy awakening their senses with flowers. Perhaps less practical, yet pleasing to the eye, nose and touch, along with the hum of bees and birds, flower gardens lend a bright spot and uplift the spirit.
Do you enjoy gardening and the beauty of flowers, but worry that gardens are too much work or too expensive? Do you have limited space but still want to add color and interest to your yard or entryway?
Do a little scouting in your area. Some communities offer garden space for rent, by the row or by square footage. You can plant a lot of corn in a forty-foot row! Whole blocks can get in on the fun and have planting days, weeding parties and a harvest celebration.
Flower gardens are fun, easy to create and don't have to cost a bundle. My children and I love working together in our flower gardens. Erica, age nine, and Alex, age six, help me create eye-catching container gardens and flowerbeds overflowing with cheerful mixtures of brilliant color.
You can easily and cheaply form a garden or plant flowers, whether you have acres to work with or virtually no space at all. Container gardens will fit on the tiniest deck, stoop, entryway or even a windowsill. Choose unusual or interesting containers to house the flowers or plants. Old vases, teapots, baskets, buckets, barrels or wagons make whimsical containers. You will most likely find some perfect holders around your house, with the added bonus of sentimental memories.
How you place the containers is important as well. Group similar holders together or tuck in vintage items for additional impact. Wagon wheels, scrolled iron gates, headboards or trellises make an excellent backdrop for floral displays.
A large pot can hold a tomato bush and yield dozens of delicious, sun-ripened tomatoes. Fresh herbs like chives, oregano and parsley make excellent windowsill gardens and add aroma and great flavor to every dish. An old child's wagon could house a row of carrots or peas or even a dozen heads of lettuce.
Another wonderful aspect of gardening is sharing. When harvest time arrives, you may have an abundance of cucumbers or corn. Share with a friend or neighbor. Everyone loves homegrown tomatoes or new potatoes.
Do your flowerbeds need thinning or are you transplanting bushes? Ask a family member or friend if they would like a cutting. Their home will be brightened every day from your gift. Whenever you cut a bouquet of fresh flowers for your house, cut a few extras for someone ill or the retirement center down the street.
Once the gardening bug hits, you will discover fresh ways to satisfy your desire to nurture plants and watch them grow. You'll awaken your senses and rediscover the childhood joys of playing in the dirt.
You can brighten your yard, a little nook on your deck or even a balcony with flowers. All it takes is a little ingenuity, a few flowers and some fabulous containers. Your only limits are your imagination.
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"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.