Thursday, June 27, 2013

How I began Holistic Gardening (part 2)

Well I already took you on a walk down memory lane when I talked about my introduction into holistic gardening. I took the knowledge from Betty Jean and began to grow vegetables in containers on my balcony.  Now during this time I was completing my education as a chemist and soon I found myself reading the labels on my bottles of fertilizers and pesticides. And I have to tell you it literally made me nauseous to think of the poisons--and that is exactly what they are--we were ingesting.

So I did what was second nature to me--I researched. I read. I gave myself an education in organic gardening. I say organic gardening because I did not embrace all the holistic methods at this point. I mostly found books at yard sales and second hand stores because I was still  in college and broke! (Ok now that I think about it it is 23 years later and I am in college and what?) The "hippie generation" had a back to the land movement in the 1960's and 1970's  but surprisingly there were not a lot of books from their experiences. There were a few I located and some of the books were better than others. I wish I could recall all the titles.  Not all the books I referenced at that time were organic methods but  I gleaned the best information from all of them.
I began to frequent libraries to find information from the newer publications but back in those days there weren't many. Barnes and Noble was formerly B. Dalton's and  Borders was formerly Walden's of which, neither were conveniently located. And the Internet? Well it was in it's early days

Some of the books I used (and  most still on my bookshelf )

Still have it!

Still have this one too!

Rodale Encyclopedia

(Except now I have the newest one)

Said to be the BIBLE of self sufficiency.  I wish I had kept this book.

I still hungered for more knowledge. So I began to ask people I knew who gardened how they managed.  Sadly, most people I spoke with used chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. It was so frustrating. Then several things occurred. I spoke to my step-Grandpa who clued me in on some "old timey" techniques and someone I befriended introduced me to the best publication-ever! Mother Earth News. Seriously my mind was blown! 

You have to understand at that time many of the things we now take for granted were not yet mainstream. It really wasn't until the late 1990's and early 2000's that there was an explosion in the green movement. Regardless of the little bit of knowledge I acquired -it was Nirvana. I began to learn about things like  manures (green and brown), compost (what you need to make it), using egg shells as a calcium supplement to the soil, and companion plants. I also learned that ladybugs, praying mantis and worms in your garden were a good sign.

I had been gardening at this point for about 8 years and still knew next to nothing! I was working, making a decent wage and could finally afford some of the newer books on organic gardening. I also had become computer literate and learned how to use the Internet. That is when all the pieces of the puzzle began to fall in place. I spent another 5-8 years slowly learning about organic gardening. 

Then we bought a house. Going from containers to an actual plot of land-well that was certainly a game changer! In my containers everything was controlled. The land was wild and the rules I had learned didn't always apply. My yard and garden were horribly neglected and the soil was decimated.

By now the green movement is in full swing and you were no longer viewed as part of a fringe movement. You could  take classes at the local community center on organic gardening and information was everywhere. I finally had the time to commit to gardening. It was no longer just a hobby-it had become a way of life.

Ok I think that is enough history for tonight. The conclusion to this journey will put all the pieces together. Stay tuned!

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