the JOY of

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YES, the JOY of home gardening, as in delight, bliss and serenity. There is just a special magic in growing things !

The peak of this joy is that I'm finally developing some projects as a social entrepreneur, trying to build a new eden in our desiccated city with 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, which we abandoned. 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.

Why this gardening thing is so compelling and fulfilling, 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, putting handling soil up there with laughter and friendship. 

The other thing I love about the small pleasures, all the sweetest small pleasures, is that these joys tend to cost nothing. The things that cost tend to disappoint. That is why I focus on low cost. I think that is the whole point, it 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 art.

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.


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.

You can grow fresh food without any agricultural poisons, for longer health, and pleasure for your tastebuds. 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 ?

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. I also have a profound awe of our native flora and its crawling and buzzing denizens, and I’m equally thrilled by the beauty of garden insects, even those we call pests. These are gifts from my deep local ancestry, through 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.

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. 

so, home gardening in a nutshell:

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, we are here !

To recap, the wonderfulness of home gardening point by point as a solution to YOUR specific gardening PROBLEMATICS or NEED:

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.

ECO: Home gardening and living clean

One of our chief goals is to spread information and tips on how to live lightly on the earth, reduce carbon footprints, reduce the use of pollutants in the garden, to save water and conserve soil. If you also live in an area which has, as our Mediterranean climate does, very dry and hot periods during the year, when water restrictions leave your garden looking like crisped up fire kindling, you can learn here about water wise plant choices and ways of saving water, using all available water and keeping the garden soil cool. In December 2017 I started a page on my green products. These are things I develop as the need arises for myself. They range from my own garden design services to helpers for green homesteaders in suburbia, food forest planters and people in the Cape needing supplies in preparation for 'day Zero' when our water taps get switched off. A humanure composting directory of suppliers and water storage buckets were the first on my list. My new label is

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.

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, and for the time being also some ideas on living green, in the following links (We're focussing down on gardening knowledge over the next few months and slowly removing other pages) :

Vegetable gardening

General information on the garden

Natural garden design

Design tips for gardeners

Seasonal colour in the garden

green ideas beyond the garden such as waste, ecocities 

and on the new website: DIY ECO HOUSE: 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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