It is a truth universally acknowledged, though not often talked about, that there is no such thing as a good gardener, nor fortunately for that matter, are there any bad gardeners. There are instead novice and knowledgeable gardeners, lucky and unlucky gardeners, but since all forms of gardener are subject to the same humbling powers and unpredictable ways of Mother Nature there’s really no ranking to be had. Gardening is therefore always a new experience and each season is one that is impossible to ever truly predict.
If you are reading this in June and you didn’t yet plant anything (believe me, I have been there many a time), don’t despair. Don’t let the dark shadow of procrastination or self-doubt settle across your garden just yet, because gardening has also now become an act of rebellion, and we are all of us latent rebels, are we not?
As the looming climate crisis hangs above us daily, one of the top five things we’re told to do to help is to eat less meat and switch to a more plant-based diet. One of the easiest and cheapest ways to increase fresh vegetables in your diet is to grow your own! There are still starter tomatoes and other plants available at garden stores and farm stands that can help you get ahead and make up for lost time. There are plenty of seeds that only take 60-70 days to produce (many of which will now be at a discounted price, too). It’s worth doing because it turns out that keeping a garden is one of the best things you can do for yourself and the broader environment.
Growing food naturally means there’ll be less pesticides in our soils and waters, and more insects and bees not poisoned and killed by them. Without needing trucks to transport food to a store, and without you needing to travel by car to buy it, you are saving on emissions and you are lowering your overall carbon footprint. There is less packaging waste because “transporting” foods from garden to kitchen needs no plastic wrapping around it.
In addition, all the food you grow and eat fresh from your garden will have a higher nutrient count and more beneficial minerals in it than the produce you buy at a store, so it’s better for your body.
Lastly, gardening (being out in nature and having your skin connected to beneficial microbes in the soil) has been proven to improve human health (improved mood, lower blood pressure and strengthened immune system).
Who knew that horticulture could heal both human health and that of our planet? Keeping a vegetable garden is a quiet form of activism. So, stop telling yourself your thumbs aren’t green or you don’t know what you’re doing, or last year’s garden wasn’t great. Remember there is no such thing as a good gardener or a bad one, instead we are all simply “rebels in training.”
Etienne White lives where the land meets the sky on a farm in Iowa County where she raises grass-fed, Old English Babydoll sheep, as well as pastured chickens, a happy farm dog, a wily barn cat and her two spirited children. She runs a consulting business working at the intersection of sustainability and marketing, and is a sought-after speaker on sustainability in the United States and Europe.