I wrote this paragraph a few weeks ago:
We all have tools in our belt for stress reduction, mental clarity and grounded goodness. We know. It’s in our guts. When our days are full, it’s hard to reach for the belt or remember where the hell it is even located (languishing under the leaves that needed to be raked up last fall? buried in the email inbox? in the false-promise of having energy after the kids are asleep? why does everyone need dinner *every* night?) My two sturdiest tools are Exercise and Gardening. And, after a helluva week where my charge as CEO of Homestead and CEO of Dig this Chick stretched me in exhausting and satisfying ways, I am feeling pretty accomplished at the small, important truths I found moving my body and digging in the dirt today. I even broke my cultivator clean in two while turning earth.
I loved the conversation that ensued. People shared all the places we can leave our Busy behind and fall into the holy rhythm of nurturing ourselves. A theme I noticed is handwork. We all enjoy working with our hands, allowing our breath to break even with our movement. It’s about creating, turning one thing into another thing. Knife to onion, hoe to dirt, hot glue gun to pinecone, pen to paper, flower to vase, brush to canvas. We all have it in us. I better never hear you say you don’t have a creative bone in your body. You were born a Maker.
My interest in gardening began when I was in middle school. My mom let me turn a small piece of lawn into a little vegetable garden and I was mesmerized at the magic of a seed the size of a comma turning into a gorgeous carrot. In college, I crammed vegetables into pots on apartment windowsills and turned tiny yards into jungles of squash and beets.
In 2001 I got a part time job picking tomatoes on a farm. I aspired to be like farmer Connie: to possess a deep intuition in the garden. She just knew things; she knew everything. What the soil needed, how to attract the right bugs, what plants like to be next to each other, when to water, the date of the last and first frosts, how to read the sky’s mood, what was a weed and what wasn’t. I became her eager student asking about everything, absorbing as much as I could.
A few years later I managed the tomatoes. I was in charge of 3000 seeds from sowing to harvest. I took the Master Gardening Class through my county’s extension office. I couldn’t get enough, certain I’d be a farmer. I started my own gardening business and when I couldn’t come up with a name my friend John and I tossed words around, brainstorming. Dirt, Turn, Soil, Grow, Nurture, Harvest, Dig.
How about Dig This Chick? he said. That was it.
I worked in other people’s yards, studying symptoms and using my tools to diagnose pests, malnutrition and disease. I planned and planted and maintained and helped plants grow. I absolutely loved becoming an expert on gardening, in particular food.
I used to write a lot more about my trials and triumphs in the garden. Remember Virgin Harvest? And those digital plot maps I used to make? I recognize an increasing desire to grow food, at least among the people I bump into online. It seems folks want that connection to food. Or maybe just to witness the pure miracle of crawling around on your hands and knees pushing seeds into dirt and feeding your family nutritious food 56 days later. Or maybe the delight of dirty handwork. Or maybe they aspire to be a Garden Intuitive like I did when I met Connie.
Anywhichway, I asked people what they want to know and am super motivated to dedicate my time to interacting with you and answering your questions. At first I was working to organize the questions and answers but eventually realized this would all be better as a conversation. I didn’t know what that would look like (I mean, I’d LOVE to have you all over to my plot for coffee among the radish seedlings…).
Here’s what we came up with! The next best thing. My friend Corinne is helping me to produce a live video workshop! Folks can log in from all over and talk with me in my garden. I’ll instruct, answering your questions along the way. Whether you want to plant a few things in containers or plan to dig up some lawn and go big, I’m here to help. You can send in questions in advance or ask them live. And, if you can’t make it to the live piece, you’ll still get the full video, resource materials and printable PDFs sent right to your inbox.
Some questions I’ll address:
When do I start? How do I start? How much time will it take? What vegetables should I plant? How do I time the planting of all the things? How do I make the most of my space? Do I fertilize or amend the soil? What are the easiest things to grow? What is companion planting? How do I use mulch? How can I keep up with weeds? How much should I water? What about thinning plants? How can I keep plants from bolting? When do I know it’s time to harvest?
I’ve never done anything like this before and hope you’ll join me as a student in the garden. I promise you’ll leave the few hours we spend together with knowledge, increased understanding, less overwhelm and lots of green thumbed enthusiasm! I do hope you’ll sign up.