Eat What You Grow and Emerge Healthier and Happier Post Quarantine
When thrown into turmoil, we are forced to re-examine how we live. During this time of forced isolation, instead of turning to fear and anxiety over things we can’t control, now is the time to focus on what is inherently human - your resilience. After all, as a mindful parent, you know creating space and cultivating compassion and presence in times of stress is the best way to move past it with grace. And nothing shows that more beautifully than planting a living garden - one you nurture, find solace, joy and hopefully some great things to eat!
In fact, during World War II, when the country was dealing with food shortages and rationing, as well as fear and anxiety, George Washington Carver promoted the idea of what he called Victory Gardens, urging people to grow their own food, mostly as a way of supplementing their rations, but also as a way to boost morale.
And while this is a different sort of war, it is a time when we can create resilience in our lives instead of focusing on the uncertainty and fear that is in the back of all of our minds.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
― Maya Angelou
So if you’re willing to get your hands a little dirty (research actually shows digging in soil exposes you to good bacteria that can boost your immune system and strengthen your health!) Don’t know where to start? Here are a few basics so you can plant some seeds that will eventually sprout and flourish in the sunny and warmer imminent summer months. Organic, edible, and good for your mental and physical health!
One of the biggest and most obvious benefits of growing an organic edible garden means your family can enjoy healthy, tasty, fresh produce free of synthetic chemicals or pesticides. And not only that, but it’s a project you can do as a family! Getting your kids involved helps them engage their curiosity, learn to be resourceful and gain self-confidence.
LOCATION. LOCATION. LOCATION.
Choose what kind of garden you will know where you are going to plant it. Ideally it’s wonderful if you have a sunny outdoor space. If you do, having a space that has at least 8 hours of full sun is preferred. But if you don’t, no problem! You can plant everything from Microgreens, Herbs, Green Beans, Avocados, Kale, Tomatoes and more indoors and in shaded areas.
Can’t decide? Start small. Most herbs can grow in small pots on indoor window sills and some vegetables in large pots on your porch.
Now that you have the basics, here is a deeper dive to understanding the essentials to getting your garden started.
USE GOOD SOIL.
What is good soil and why is it so important?
Nutrient-rich and well-drained soil is essential for growing a strong garden. You want to make sure it is chemical and pesticide-free, because, after all, that Is one of the reasons you want to grow your own food! And it starts with the soil.
Soil is one of the most misunderstood aspects of gardening. What we know as “dirt” is actually a diverse living habitat that contains an astounding amount of beneficial bacteria, fungi, and other organisms necessary for vegetables and humans. This soil ecosystem helps to break down nutrients from organic matter and is what feeds your garden and you.
Soil is one of the critical pieces that ties your edible garden to your environmental impact. Because it’s not just about making your own food, it’s about understanding the overall process involved when you buy conventional food from the store.
This is where regenerative agriculture comes in - like the kind that takes place on the farms where Nui Organics sources our Organic Merino Wool. Animals like sheep that graze and exist on regenerative farms are essential to restoring soil. This regenerative approach to farming and grazing practices helps rebuild organic soil matter, restore soil biodiversity, enhance carbon drawdown, and improve the water cycle by leveraging the power of photosynthesis and ecological harmony below and above ground.
To simplify, sustainable and regenerative farms are just as important to the planet and our own health as sustainable and circular fashion is. Sadly, the world’s soil is disappearing at such a fast rate, it could be completely depleted by 2050.
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of the Functional School of Medicine in Cleveland Ohio, if we don’t stop erosion and soil loss caused by greenhouse gas emissions from our food system, deforestation, destructive agricultural practices, and the fossil fuels used for processing, packaging, and refrigeration to food waste, by 2050 we will lose1.5 million square kilometers of farmland from production—equivalent to all the farmable land in India.
So know your home garden is not just a selfish act but one that is helping the planet. And luckily you can get high-quality organic garden soil from a reputable local garden store.
COMPOST - FOOD FOR YOUR SOIL.
Another hidden benefit of a home garden is that you have a place to put your compost that is actually good for your soil! For the planet, composting reduces waste, makes us less dependent on landfills, and decreases greenhouse gas emissions. For us gardeners, we can use compost to strengthen soil and promote healthy plant growth.
That means you will be recycling essential nutrients back into the soil AND eliminate the need for pesticides and synthetic fertilizers.
You can find basic composting here. As a summary, you want a good balance of green waste -- watery materials like fruits and vegetables and grass clippings -- and brown waste like dried leaves, sticks, fur, cloth, cardboard, and paper.
The “easy” option is to buy already sprouted plants. This forgoes any germinating process (the process that facilitates the sprouting of seeds as shown here by #nuiworld mom Grace Kim @patchouliandfig).
However, if you want to make this a fun activity for kids, sprouting seedlings in biodegradable egg cartons like Grace did, could be a fun home science project and afternoon activity!
We don’t have to remind you to just say no to chemicals and pesticides. But natural fertilizers are important to keeping your edible garden healthy.
Good natural options like seaweed fertilizer, are available at your local home store or online. These natural options provide a broad spectrum of nutrients that will keep you and your soil healthy.
Microbes are just as important in our soil as organic matter and nutrients. They aren’t talked about as much as fertilizers, so this is one of the more unique tips about organic vegetable gardening for beginners.
Bacteria is actually GOOD for you. In fact, we get more nutrition out of our food because of bacteria. Bacteria in the digestive system also supply us with needed vitamins like biotin and vitamin K.
And the good news is, adding compost tea is also something you can find at your local garden shop or online, or in your own compost pile!
Just like for you, water is the source of life. And just like you, you’ll want to keep the soil most but not saturated, which means watering every day. Using your fingers as the best judgement, you can add or lessen as you go.
And that’s it! As you can see, growing an edible “victory” garden is not hard, and it’s not necessarily time consuming. But doing it and teaching and involving your kids in the process is educational, interesting, and will help them understand the importance of their impact on nurturing a seedling into life, and understanding the role nature has in their life, their health, and their impact on the world as a whole.
Additionally, with all that is going on in the world at the time of this article - during the COVID-19 crisis and as we are sheltering in place - why not?
This is an interesting and special time in our lives. It’s a time when we, united globally with humanity, are given the opportunity to rethink our lives, spend more time at home being LESS distracted on external things, and more time finding things that actually nurture our souls.
This, in fact, is one of the reasons Nui Organics exists. Because sustainable fashion made of premium organic and natural fibers is not only good for your family, it’s good for the planet, and lasts longer so you can spend more time doing things that do just that - spending more quality time with your family, and nurturing yours and their souls.
So we want to know, what are you going to plant in your home edible garden? Let us know via Facebook, Instagram or email. We can grow through this experience during the coronavirus quarantine, thrive in it, AND nurture new life, new experiences, and walk away resilient and ready for all that life has for us on the other side.