It has been an awkward minute since I last blogged and there is no great way to break the awkwardness… There are probably a thousand and one relevant quotes I could toss out, like John Lennon’s, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” But I will cut right in and simply say:
Keep Calm and Garden On.
Garden On has, indeed, been the motto of my life the past few years. When life gives you lemons, throw them back and Garden On.
Rose Rosette Virus swept through North Texas a number of years ago now, destroying my beloved antique rose collection. As I was trying to regroup and figure out my “What Next,” my body had other plans. In early 2020, as the world was plunged into a global pandemic, I was being diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson’s Disease. Nothing like going in to an apocalyptic era barely hanging on to the bottom rung of a very real ladder otherwise known as Survival of the Fittest. Add in Texas’ historic winter storm in February 2021, where the entire state was plunged into a deep freeze like never before. And that was just the temperatures inside our homes! We were, of course, destined to have a repeat in February of ’22, though thankfully shorter lived and – this time – with power! Very, very thankfully – with power! But, after all of that, many of my once overflowing garden beds were barren, except for the hardiest of plants.
But gardens – and gardeners – are resilient. And full of hope.
I started on medications for YOPD at Christmas of ’21, which has allowed me to fully resume gardening. I am still stiff and sore, especially between doses of medication, but I am able to get up and down easier again and can again bend my fingers to use pruners. My strength has returned and my balance – while wobbly at times – is getting better. So Garden On I have been. But what to garden?
It is not yet safe (in my opinion) to plant roses in this area. The winter storm of February ’21 killed many of the shrubs I had planted as place-holders after removing the infected roses. Was it even wise for me to start over again, knowing that I face an uphill battle with my health?
To Re-Sod or Not To Re-Sod was the topic of many conversations around the melodious garden. I had spent so much time and energy removing our lawn, did I really want to give up parts of the garden and re-sod our property?
We always circled back around to:
Gardening keeps you young and active.
I would rather die today in my garden than in ten or twenty years, immobile and confined to my home.
What can I garden today to benefit me tomorrow?
Somewhere along those conversations, I stumbled upon the concept of food forests and fruit tree guilds and permaculture and where has this been all of my life?
I have maintained our property organically since we bought this corner of the world 28 years ago and the organic garden center I worked at in the late 1990’s was an early source for heirloom seeds and plants in this area. I think I must have danced around the edges of the permaculture circle for years, as I was far more interested in growing ornamentals with a few herbs and veggies tossed in for good measure than in primarily growing fruits and vegetables. But now, with my health such as it is, turning all of my empty flower beds into extensive food production turns out to be the perfect answer to “What can I garden today to benefit me tomorrow?”
And with that – I hope to chronicle here what changes I have made to my gardens, what I am growing, why I am growing the varieties I am and, maybe most importantly, what I am doing with what I am growing.