Friday, March 5, 2010

Food for thought Fridays - Nature and us

I had the pleasure of seeing Xanthe White speak at the Hamilton Food and Wine Festival last Sunday. 

I wrote about Xanthe on My inspiration Mondays a little while back and was looking forward to seeing her in person at the Festival. She didn't disappoint.

Xanthe added to the dialogue begun in her book Organic Vegetable Gardening, and spoke about bringing young children into the garden so they can see how an ecosystem works on a small scale and gain perspective of how their behaviour impacts the world. 

Xanthe made a good point when she said that if you're growing vegetables at home, don't neglect to grow other plants as well, especially natives, to encourage birds, bees and other insects into your garden that will help your veges thrive.

I enjoyed her question and answer session, as I got to hear the struggles and successes other Hamilton gardeners are having and listen to Xanthe's unique take on their various situations. 

I have a problem knowing what to do with all the fallen leaves from my cabbage trees, so asked Xanthe what she does with hers. She replied that she used to send them off in green garden sacks, but has now created an area down the back of her property to dump them so they can house wetas and other insects. 

I don't have the luxury of a section big enough to copy her, but I like the idea of using them for some good purpose so am thinking I'll burn them and add the ash to my compost. In the past I've cut them up and used them as mulch around plants, and I may continue that from time to time.

I came away from Xanthe's talk appreciating more that I am part of nature and that I have an important role to both protect it and appreciate it. 

The work I do in my garden is part of a bigger picture - the plants I grow will encourage bugs and birds to flourish in my community. Being in the garden is also good for my own heath, just spending time communing with nature, getting fresh air and exercise. Apparently gardeners get sick less often than non-gardeners.

I came home from the Festival inspired and instantly got stuck into the garden, weeding it and enjoying the sunshine. Here's how it's looking now:
A pumpkin has self-seeded in L's garden, front right.
Bean tepee.
Tomatoes, finally starting to ripen.
Lettuce, basil and beetroot seedlings.
Beetroot, ready to harvest.
Courgette (It wouldn't be a Craving Fresh post without it.)

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