Community Garden

One of my goals/intentions for this year was to start growing my own fruits, vegetables, and herbs (not that kind). It is a challenge living in Manhattan Beach as the land is so valuable, people are spending millions of dollars sometimes to tear down a house and build a new one in its place with very little to no yard. Living in my little surf shack, with no outside space, I knew that my intention would be a challenge. However, here is something I have found about goals/intentions/vision, etc. The how it’s going to happen doesn’t need to fit into your equation. Set the intention, have faith that it will work out, then take action to make it happen. Most of the time it will work out. When it doesn’t, it usually works out as something better for you.

I have set goals at various times in my life. When I was working for the Simmons Company as a sales and marketing representative, I had a manager who was big on goal setting. I noticed that when I set goals, even if I didn’t all the way achieve them, my performance greatly improved. Then as an ambassador for Lululemon, I learned how to set goals and put together a vision for my future. What I have noticed about gardening is that it is very similar to goal setting. The goal in gardening is to be able to eventually eat what you plant. So the seeds we plant are similar to seeds of intention that get planted in the mind when we set goals. Similarly to goals we set for our personal life, the seeds need to be watered, given sunlight, and pests need to be controlled. Sometimes we change our mind and realize, we would rather grow strawberries than radishes. So, sometimes our plans and what we want change. So we take the appropriate steps to make the changes. Dig up the old and replant new. Also, we can’t just plant a seed and “hope” it grows. Some things do, like mint, but most goals/seeds, need to be taken care of. Even a little bit each day has a big effect on your achievement of what you desire. Does this sound like what we need to do with our personal goals or what? The metaphors are perfect.

So, back to this community garden… About a year ago, Chelsea was living in El Segundo and found out through our friends who also lived there, that there is a community garden in the town and it’s free. All you have to do is apply and get on the waiting list. So together, they put in an application and several months later, a spot opened up. Her friend has three kids, several garden beds in her yard, a couple of dogs, three rabbits, a cat, and she just acquired a few chickens (to make eggs). So safe to say, she already has her hands full. So it’s pretty much ours to have and take care of. Boom, we now have a place to grow our own food. Our plot is 16 cinderblocks turned on their sides.6 blocks on each side and two on the ends. That is how much space we have.  It’s about 8 feet by 3 feet. The size of your “typical” garden bed. So we have 32 holes to plant herbs and little flowers, etc. Fortunately for us, it already had…two types of Rosemary, mint, oregano, thyme, and sage already growing. I guess the people who had it before us planted those. We added, basil, onion, cilantro, and a variety of flowers that is said to naturally keep pests away.

We also plant radishes from seed. Which are very satisfying to see grow. Check this one out…

We almost pulled it when it started to pop out of the ground. That is how we usually can tell when root vegetables are ready to be picked. (or so we thought) I always wondered that. How do you know when root vegetables are ready to be picked? They are in the ground, growing underneath, how can you tell when their ready and how big they are. Then, when we planted carrots and beets and radishes, I began to see. They would actually pop out of the ground. Perhaps we have been too eager though. We didn’t pick the radish right away because we noticed that with radishes if we didn’t eat it that day, it would deteriorate quickly and then look gross and neither of us would want to eat it. Fresh from the garden  though and on a salad…mmm delicious. We weren’t ready to eat it each time we went to water the garden. So the radish, that we planted from a tiny seed, kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally we picked it and it was four times the size of our other ones. So, maybe we need to let all of our root vegetables grow a little longer and continue to push themselves out of the ground. This garden plot is such a learning experience.  We have learned so much in such a short time, through trial and error, advice from friends, and the information on the internet.

  • We have learned to not plant broccoli next to cabbage. We kept wondering why or broccoli looked more like broccolini. Finally, when we had given up and decided to pull it, Chelsea found the tag that came with it and it said, Do not plant next to cabbage. Oops, I guess we learned that lesson the hard way. Read directions…and be careful where you plant everything.
  • Along the same lines, we learned to be mindful where you plant things with our tomato plants. We have an heirloom and a cluster tomato plant that we got from Growing Greats. At one of their educational seminars, they gave a tomato plant away to all who attended. So Chelsea and I both got one and planted them in our garden. We planted the cluster tomato plant where the broccoli used to be and the heirloom tomato plant (my favorite kind of tomato) in the middle where the cauliflower failed miserably. The Heirloom plant has taken over. It’s almost as tall as I am. However, it is the biggest producer from our garden so far.

  • We learned how to keep away pests with beer from my good friend and fellow yogi Wanda Mae. One day just before class  at the Green Yogi, she told me that pouring beer around the garden perimeter is a good way to control some pests we were getting.
  • We learned from the internet how to organically get rid of aphids that were covering our squash leaves.
  • We learned from a fellow community gardener about some flowers to plant around the perimeter also that will keep certain harmful bugs away.

It has been a wonderful learning experience. The best reward is Harvest Day. The day you get to the garden and realize a bunch of stuff has ripened at the same time. Goal reached!

If you grow your own food too, then you know how delicious food is when you planted it, watered it, took care of it and then picked it, cooked it or ate it in raw form. It is the most delicious food ever.

I remember a few years ago, when I first tasted the difference in something locally grown, seasonal and organic. I steamed up some vegetables, brussel sprouts specifically. I didn’t really love brussel sprouts, but I ate them sometimes because I knew they were good for me. Whenever I would eat them, I would steam them up and load them with butter and salt for taste. I used to shop for vegetables at the grocery store, but this is about 5 years ago and I didn’t have a car, so I started shopping at the farmers markets. Well, my first time buying them fresh from the market is also the first time I forgot to put butter and salt on them. I took my first bite and said, “Holy Cow!, this is delicious”. Then I realized I had forgotten to add butter and salt. Wait a second, this is amazing! These taste delicious without anything. That’s when I realized how much better food tastes when it is locally grown and organic. Then, as I continued on my yoga path, I became more concious of what I put in my body. What I eat, where it comes from and who makes it are all important factors for me.

It’s all about balance though, at least to me. I went to Ralph’s the other night and got a Sicilian style pizza frozen from California Pizza Kitchen. So I’m not perfect, don’t claim to be. I just like delicious food. So when I got home, I opened up the pizza, added a bunch of my own toppings…squash, tomatoes and basil from our garden, olives, artichoke hearts, spinach, zucchini,some of my homemade bbq sauce, and more cheese. Mmm, now that was a tasty pizza.

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2 thoughts on “Community Garden

  1. My husband and I started our own garden this year in our backyard. It’s definitely been a learning process and we’re starting to see some of the fruits of our labor! Thanks for the post, I learned quite a few tips!

  2. matthew–you inspire. i just moved to kc and have a bit of a garden from the previous owners. setting my goals right now….

    hope you are well!

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