What gardening means to me

I often find it hard to explain what gardening means to me. When I try, people often look at me blankly and change the subject. In a way, I feel sad for those people, for they’ll never understand or experience the pure joy it can bring to one’s life.

Gardening is a part of my soul, my connection to earth and everything beautiful around me. I feel so much joy when my hands are in the dirt, a delicate seed in my palm, knowing that with my care and attention the seed will thrive, and grow into something beautiful.

My love of plants and nature in general started when I was very young. My grandfather used to grow fruit and vegetables in a plot out on a friend’s farm. I remember popping open gooseberries and peeling back their papery skins, while Pop stood there smiling. My sisters and I used to peel peas from their pod for my mum, but would often end up eating half of them raw, laughing and giggling as they ended up all over the place.

I remember when my dad planted a silky oak tree in the backyard. I thought it was so beautiful, I used to sit out beside it and talk to it… err, let me just say I was quite young at the time.

I also remember the first time I attempted to grow something. I planted a large pot of mint seeds, and for the first week every afternoon after school I sat picking out all the weeds that had miraculously appeared… they weren’t weeds.

My love of gardening continues to grow the older I get, and I like to think that I got my green thumb from my pop. He was always so fit and healthy well into his 60s, given his time spent in his garden and it’s something I aspire to. Just the thought of pottering around in my garden when I’m old and grey brings a smile to my face.

Most people wouldn’t understand the excitement I feel when the wind scatters piles of leaves all over my lawn. For me it means carbon for my compost, which I often don’t have enough of (other than paper). Just the other day I was aerating it (the compost), and found a worm with an egg sac. Up until a couple of months ago I wouldn’t have even known worms have egg sacs (egg sacs? yeah right), but I saw it and got so excited! The worms were having a party in my compost. Woo!

We have a couple of crows building a nest high up in a huge eucalyptus tree in our yard, rosellas often on the lawn eating grass seeds, king parrots regularly flying about (who I found out were eating all my tomatoes!), and a flock of about eight kookaburras often laughing merrily up in the tree.

I could spend my whole weekend in my garden, and it would be time well spent. Now with the new addition of two crazy chickens, it’s even more fun.

One day I’ll have the garden I dream of, I’ll grow all sorts of edible plants, have more chickens to add to the flock, have beautiful trees and plants, a stunning pond and natural pool, and maybe even my own bee hive. Until then, I’m content with my little garden out the back, because as long as I’m growing things, then I’m happy.

It’s hard to put into words what gardening means to me. The best way to describe it, would probably be to say that it makes my heart soar and my soul sing.

There is a quote I have always loved – ” I climbed the tree to see the world” – and although I love it, I didn’t have to climb the tree. Simply sitting against its trunk, under the dappled sunlight through its leaves, the world came to me.

How to harvest marigold seeds

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Marigold-seeds-Canopy-of-Colour

Marigolds have become one of my favourite little flowers. Not because I love orange, or because they’re cute, but because they are a god send when it comes to keeping pests away from an organic garden.

One of the biggest problems I face is keeping away the bad bugs that want to munch on everything I grow. Marigolds have quite a pungent smell, which tends to act as a repellant for many bugs, so by planting them in and around the garden, they help deter pests. Plus they’re considered to have a low pollen level, which is always a plus for anyone who suffers hayfever.

This year I’ve harvested the seeds, so I can grow them myself rather than spend a fortune on buying seedlings, so thought I’d share how this is done.

With marigolds, the seeds come after the flower heads die. Once a flower dies, it’ll start drying out and turn brown (top left hand corner of picture). When it gets to this stage, simply pinch them off, and carefully extract the seeds from the inside. You can peel the top open, however I prefer squeezing from the bottom and letting them all pop out.

You should end up with a heap of seeds (see front of pic). Which is great, because it’s likely that not all will germinate.

Happy harvesting.