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Why Do We Garden?

October 22, 2012
Rich Garden Soil

Rich garden soil where worms love to live!

Why garden?

There’s no way everyone answers these questions the same way. Some of us are focused on growing food. Others simply want a neat & tidy entry to their homes. Folks like me, well, we’ve got a mish-mash of never-ending reasons. Some may seem like worthless distractions — like the video that follows — but I’d argue the distractions are as important as everything else we do outdoors.

This weekend I set a few goals. They seemed reasonable and attainable as I mapped them out over my Sunday morning latte:

  • Plant bulbs, including garlic
  • Rake leaves & fill composters
  • Clear out spent annual containers, including pots of tomatoes
  • Pull weeds as you go

Sure, it’s a small list, but I didn’t manage to complete everything before the hail showers arrived mid-afternoon. The decorative bulbs made it into beds from which I pulled weeds as I worked. Many more containers filled with summer’s dead have been cleared. And, our compost bins are filled to the brim and even more leaves are piled in spots where the wind won’t whip them out into the beds in the coming months. (I like to stash as many as I can to refill the compost bins as the months go by.) But, I didn’t manage to get the garlic planting scratched off my list.

Instead of racing to get everything done, I took time to really relax as I worked. I breathed deeply, savoring the fleeting fragrance of fallen Katsura leaves. I looked up as our resident hummingbird buzzed me again and again on his way to feed on nearby Monkshood, Fuchsia and Salvia. And, I looked down, marveling at some of the hardest working & most under-appreciated wildlife in our garden — the earthworm.

Now that the rains have returned for autumn, our luscious soil was teeming with earthworms of all sizes. Traveling through they soil, they make their way upward to feed on the leaf duff, mulch and wood chips. And, as they move through the soil, pooping and sliming along the way, they drop nutrients for the plant roots among which they live and thrive. I enjoyed them so darn much, I even took the time to pull out my camera and film one in action.

Yeah, that’ll slow a gardener down.

More leaves will be falling all winter long, so that’s a never ending chore. And, I’m still in the safe zone to plant my garlic, so it’s okay that didn’t get done.

After I went inside, got cleaned up & planted myself in my favorite reading chair overlooking the garden, I watched flocks of robins, sparrows, wrens, towhees, starlings, chickadees and others make their way into the garden beds where I had recently raked, planted and pulled weeds. The seed eaters feasted upon Love Lies Bleeding, Sunflower and other seeds. The robins scratched their way through the beds looking to snack upon the slurpy worms I’d left behind. Together they put on a show in the pouring rain, entertaining me ’til sunset hid all but the brightest garden bits from view.

Yes, I garden for food, to improve the environment, to get exercise, to make a lush outdoor environment and all that jazz. But I also garden to stay connected to nature — whether I’m filling my fist with soil, planting a bulb (decorative or edible) or simply watching nature in action on our little piece of the planet.



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