The beginning and end of regeneration is the key role paid by plants in healthy soil life, healthy eating and the basis of healthy ecosystems. A flower is the visible means by which plants produce the following generations and thus help regenerate the earth. Their role in pollinator attraction, or plant marketing display, has shaped them and there's an ecological story in every flower. In its heart is a microcosm of the macrocosm.
To research and practice and teach on
regenerating the earth, I have to put bread on my table, and growing
vegetables in suburbia has been a hard nut to crack, or I just have not
found the money in it. I have therefore leaned on a lifetime of practice
in art and making t-shirt designs to try and bring in the bread so that
I can have the luxury of researching and writing about plants. This too
is anything but an easy and quick solution. Drawing is heavy lifting
for the brain, heavier than writing, or at least this is my experience.
First of all the plant research is incorporated into the story of the plants made into 'art'. I am building a collection in which each plant has a story that is a blend of plant iconography, ecology, horticulture, alternative food culture and herbalism.
It should be possible to get to know our South African flowers on multiple levels, in the way that European plants are known to the people of Europe. Their plants are embedded in culture and academic study on so many levels. Our plants seem only to be known as botanical and ecological study subjects. A few are grown in gardens and some are known and researched as medicines. There is so much more that can be brought to light and gain more popular currency. I want to open up some botanical and ecological knowledge 'for the masses' and delve into not just botany, ecology and horticulture, but the symbolism in art and cultural practice of our native plants, to make them known in more ways, to everyone.
We love what we know, and we will fight for the symbols that we love. This is the other reason behind creating stories on our plants, and turning them into art. Therefore I try to open out and enrich the knowledge about every one of the flowers in our designs linked to this flora and fauna design page.
Home gardening can take part in the planet wide return to regenerative practices. Every garden counts. If each private garden, plot or farm is regenerative, we can do so much to save our supportive earth mother from become hostile to our ungrateful little selves, as he throws drought, global warming and viruses at us in an attempt to wake us up.
Home gardening can be used for building a carbon sequestration machine, and fighting climate change at home, or with community gardens. This enjoyable pass-time will be sequestering carbon the old fashioned, way, tested in the laboratory of nature, with billions of studies, and a longitudinal reach of millions of years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
is only the beginning of the story of its benefits ! For a special
series of articles on the health benefits of a garden and taking the
best from old fashioned rural lifestyles, go to healthy living tips.
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 and greater nutritional potency, for longer health, and vastly more pleasure for your taste buds.
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. 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.
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.
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 !
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This website includes sections on different kinds of gardening that are low budget, eco-friendly, recycling based and poison free.
Perennial vegetables and food plants
Useful plants, herbs and wild plants
General information on the garden
green ideas beyond the garden such as waste, ecocities
and building green
Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or stories to share on gardening, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests, natural gardening, do nothing gardening, observations about pests and diseases, foraging, dealing with and using weeds constructively, composting and going offgrid.
Check out our selection of ecological designs printed on T-shirts, accessories and decor items. The designs are about soil regeneration, indigenous Cape wild flowers, wild African animals and other fauna, as well as bible quotes and geometric patterns.
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