the JOY of
HOME GARDENING
and greening your life

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Home gardening brings joy,
and supports a healthier planet with ecosystem conservation, a healthier home with off grid living and a healthier you with healthy food.

Home gardening, brings delight, bliss and serenity. There is a special wonder in growing things, and so much pleasure at the beauty natural processes reveal every day !

In the garden we go inward and nurture the soul and body, and outward to nurture the planet. There are so many ways that ecological gardening can help support both ourselves and the environment. I hope this website will delve deep enough and show enough variety in the ways this healing works itself out.

On this website you will find material on growing vegetables, for feeding the body with organically grown food high in the phytonutrients that help us flourish. You will also find reporting on social projects to show what people are doing to help our city and its environment flourish. There are descriptions of various methods for making the garden into an ecosystem that is as nearly as possible self sustaining.

The first blossoms of a new apricot treeThe first blossoms of a new apricot tree

I also discuss some of my own project ideas, such as the "Fruitful Forests" Urban Agroforestry and Rehabilitation Project. I hope one day it will be integrated with a project like the Soil2Soil sanitation project, planned with Riyaaz Ismail. In the meantime I'm investigating volunteering opportunities in Cape Town and recommending them so that others can choose appropriate projects to take part in.

Intellectually its easy enough to understand the benefits to ourselves and the environment of gardening wisely. Why this gardening thing is so compelling and fulfilling emotionally one can only guess. Does it lie deep in our ancestry ? Whatever the cause, for bubbling up the yeast of happiness in your soul it is one of the best remedies. Time in the garden must be one of the top six mood boosters, and some research has shown that soil organisms boost serotonin naturally. Handling soil can be as healing as laughter and friendship.

My third attempt that produced tiny fruit tree seedlingsMy third attempt finally produced tiny fruit tree seedlings

The other thing that is so amazing about a garden is all its small pleasures, and these joys tend to cost nothing. The opening of a bud on a new fruit tree, the germination of seeds you had given up on and forgotten about, the success of a new watering strategy, the observations and small manipulations that never cease, clipping here, mulching there, shading this or that. The things that cost tend to give short lived satisfaction. The things that count should be available to everyone. That is why I focus on low cost. I will always explore a way to do something with recycled materials or less fuss. I think that is the whole point, the garden, our little Eden, should be as free as possible. If you don't use available materials that would otherwise be discarded, gardening is much less of a sublime, creative and earth friendly art.

Home gardening and your body

Green brings peace. New research on the brain shows that the sight of growing plants is very beneficial to humans and gives us tranquility like few other things do. Every human being has a right to this peace. We were made to enjoy it and need it, even if it is only a plant filled windowsill. It feeds the soul, and by reducing stress, makes one a better person.

AND

This is only the beginning of the story of its benefits !

Gardening may be a joy to find later in life, but this isn’t always so. However, with time we can become less resilient, and need relief, more time out from the wear and tear that stress has taken on our bodies. Simple joy is such an antidote to the fight or flight response, reversing its ill effects on our blood, circulation and other tissues including the nervous system. Gardening stays with us, and may replace the loss of other pleasures. It provides so many other benefits too.

two fragile, fluffy radicles embracetwo fragile, fluffy radicles embrace

You can grow fresh food without any agricultural poisons and greater nutritional potency, for longer health, and vastly more pleasure for your taste buds.

The exercise involved in gardening is varied, taxing every part of the body. It strengthens your back and core and keeps the knees supple. A few hours of gentle gardening does wonders for weight loss.

Gardening doesn’t have to be strenuous. I use methods such as zero tillage and minimal weeding that you can adopt and keep using into your eighties. But I’m only approaching sixty, so I’ll put that in as a caveat, I have no experience !

All over the world these marvelous people that live healthily into their hundreds work the land. It makes one think. Is it the purity and freshness of their food, or the good exercise, or the lack of excess eating (which is also a life extender), or the serenity which comes from working in wide open spaces under the sky, and tending green and growing things. Is it the satisfaction and self sufficiency which comes from a lifetime of experience with farming and the deep knowledge they have ?

No wordsNo words

Home gardening and the wider horizon

I think all these things are intimately wound up with the ethics of living gently and lightly. As in permaculture we should be caring for the earth and caring for people. Add to this an aesthetic appreciation of plants, beauty for beauty’s sake. I don’t believe everything in the garden has to be edible or be directly or indirectly useful to humans. Our native flora and its crawling and buzzing denizens is a wonderful and awe inspiring thing, as is the beauty of garden insects, even those we call pests. Many years spent listening to my mother an

entomologist turned botanical activist who worked on cataloguing plants in the wild dry Strandveld and observing Afro-montaine forest ecology in the dripping ferny ravine forests on Table Mountain prepared me to be able to see the natural beauty around me in greater detail.

So in my garden you will find a lot of things that are just there for the joy of it, or for their role in nature. Actually I did show that these have an indirect benefit to humans. Joy and natural surroundings bring emotional effects and with those gains which are quite physical in nature and promote health. 

Months of effort building an artificial greywater wetland turns out wellMonths of effort building an artificial greywater wetland turns out well

So, let us expand
on the benefits of home gardening:

Home gardening can be so simple and provide so many benefits, from fresh unpolluted food to healthy exercise, weight loss and emotional rewards. Seeing your handiwork provides great satisfaction and mental stimulation and being surrounded by green growing things has calming effects on the mind ! If you would like to learn key elements in gardening and growing your own food successfully, and naturally, using free materials, surrounding yourself with a living canvas of beauty, read on !

HEALTH: Home gardening and natural methods

If your interest in home gardening is to grow your own food, we would like to help you with experience and information, and guide you in the avoidance of agricultural poisons and other additives, and promote a fully natural way of growing food. The foundation of growing food is making good compost.We will guide you through the best ways of using organic waste to produce your own natural poison free garden fertilizer. You can read here about various kinds of composting from cold slow moldering to quick hot composting, and you can pick up tips on the benefits of vermiculture from a professional worm farmer, and we will share our experience of natural pest control with you. If you have a fishpond, this website will explain some of the positive knock on effects for your garden of fish ponds and ways in which you can integrate them into your food garden care.

cover crops, herbs and fruit in the wetlandcover crops, herbs and fruit in the wetland

ECO: Home gardening and living clean

In December 2017 I started a page on green products. These are useful things I develop as the need arises in the running of home and garden. They range from garden design, food forest and retrofitting services to supplies which were needed in preparation for 'day Zero' when our water taps would be switched off in Cape Town. A humanure composting directory  and water storage buckets were the first on my list under the new label earth love

MONEY: Home gardening on a tight budget

If you are operating on a very low budget, this website will guide you through the essential knowledge for a successful gardener, and I hope provide an enriching learning experience. We want to help everyone maximize the use of available free resources. If there isn’t very much spare cash for the garden, most of our tips are for the very low budget garden, such as recycling materials and saving seed, we delight in low tech solutions that save money. Here we will show that much of what people throw away in the trash is free material for building a beautiful garden. We will follow the easy ways to maximize the use and re-use of your resources, integrating them to get the greatest benefits.

TIME: Home gardening on a tight schedule

The techniques we advocate are intended to maximize your use of all resources, including your own energy and time, avoiding fussy procedures or time wasting perfectionism. If you are worried about the time investment, you can use time saving techniques and you can tailor your garden’s size and other factors to suit your time constraints, and do it in your spare time. We get by on barely an hour a day, and have various ways of reducing the effort required to keep our garden going.  These are also harmonious with the green approach to living.

building the greywater recycling systembuilding a greywater recycling system

ROOM: Home gardening that saves space

We love the space saving techniques spreading all around the world in urban gardening. If, as is the case in the average household, you don’t have much space, you don’t have to say no to gardening. You can grow in containers or on window sills. Indoor, vertical and roof gardening are a must in the city. We've been there, felt the lack of room, tried things and can write from experience about it.

SOUL: Home gardening and our being

Your garden may be small, but it is like a temple, a gallery, a laboratory and a library. It can awaken your awe, stimulate your appreciation of beauty, and can reveal to you the most inspiring insights into the ecological balances in nature. We'd like to hear from you too, about your gardening and learning journey. 

home gardening and ethics

The green approach and natural way of doing things aligns with permaculture, but we embrace all forms of gardening which are poison free, and eco friendly, so that you not only use all your organic waste instead of putting it in a wheelie bin, but eat more healthily and live more healthily. 

We not only provide information on natural permacultural or organic means to fertilize, but on turning your garden into a diverse ecosystem, that helps you lighten your work load, controlling weeds, and pests and boosting the soil life in your garden. We also share our experiences experimenting with reducing people, dog and bird damage in the garden.

home gardening and the desire for beauty

You may want a home garden that is also beautiful to look at, for its emotional benefits, perhaps using a lot of colour. To help you I have included a section on natural garden design which links to design tips and describes garden layout  projects, and we have collected albums of leaf and flower colours in the different seasons for our region to give you ideas.

website outline

This website includes sections on different kinds of gardening that are low budget, eco-friendly, recycling based and poison free.

Vegetable gardening

Useful plants, herbs and wild plants

General information on the garden

Water management

Soil fertility

Natural garden design

Decorative plants

green ideas beyond the garden such as waste, ecocities 

and  building green 

You’re a home gardener ! Share your experiences and questions !

We all know about home gardening. Tell us about your successes, challenges and ask about issues that bother you. You may have the luxury of a back garden, but there are other ways we learn. Few people age without growing something or buying vegetables during their lives ! It is absolutely guaranteed that you have learned things which can help others on their gardening journey.

We invite you to share your stories, ask questions, because if a thing has bothered you it will bother others too. Someone may have a solution ! No question is too small. There is learning for everyone involved, for you, for me (yes, I learn from every question), for us all. Exciting stuff !

We are starting on a new journey. Every week we will profile your letters ! The best stories and questions we receive.

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

adding joy to the garden 
For the garden as therapy nothing beats a garden swing. Return to the carefree moments of childhood for a few minutes, meditate and relax. This swing cost …

Ficus, oh ficus 
I have a complex relationship with my ficus tree: it's the air conditioner for the house, holds up the tree house and shades half the garden, but it sheds …

Ficus, oh ficus 
I have a complex relationship with my ficus tree: it's the air conditioner for the house, holds up the tree house and shades half the garden, but it sheds …

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