If there is one constant in life it is that nothing remains the same, and New Year’s celebrations always seem to bring this into sharp focus.
As we look back at 2012, we witnessed the passing of the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, we watched a Syrian dictator destroy much of his own country, we lost a great writer when the keys of Ray Bradbury’s typewriter finally fell silent, we witnessed the daily struggle of Europe trying to reign in the financial chaos that threatens the world, and, locally, fewer of us went out into the yard to do a little gardening.
The latter concerns me on many levels because gardening is so much more than a hobby or something we do to impress the neighbors. It is an integral part of a balanced life, because without plants we simply wouldn’t exist on this planet.
I think deep down most of us recognize this symbiotic relationship, but in case you need a little more incentive, here are three simple reasons to garden in 2013.
• The rising cost of food – I don’t know about you, but my grocery bill keeps getting pricier regardless of what I put in the bag. Yet there’s a simple way that we all can eat better for less.
Take an average package of lettuce seeds for instance. Maybe it has about 40 seeds, and by time you factor in the slugs and the times you forgot to water, you end up with 25 bunches of lettuce. At an average grocery store price of $1.49 and taking out the initial cost of $2.49 – that still means a savings of about $34.
If you grow organically, you can add about $2 more per bunch, which brings your savings up to $84.
Factor in the gas you save by not driving to the grocery store and fuel not used to ship that produce from California, and the benefits to the environment are quite substantial, meaning that you get both a healthy planet and safe food.
• It builds character – I worked with a young man named Matt Blom at the nursery for about seven years. The first time I asked him to clean out the pond, he asked me why he had to do it. I answered him the same way my bosses answered me whenever I questioned an impending lousy job, I told him, “It builds character.”
During our time together, Matt finished a degree in business, learned the give and take of customer service, gained valuable sales experience, and if I may say so, become a pretty good gardener. He has recently moved on to a sales and marketing position at an international plastics manufacturer using the skills he acquired while selling plants to others, but the last thing he did (voluntarily) before leaving was clean the pond for old time’s sake.
• You give back to nature – the many facets of our everyday life – our houses, schools, the roads we travel, the malls and businesses we work at – all of these impact the local environment, to some degree.
Gardening is a small way that we can give back to the many species displaced by development.
I can guarantee you that a hardy fuchsia will bring a hummingbird, a pond will bring a blue heron, a butterfly bush will bring a swallowtail and a hazelnut copse will bring a Stellar’s jay.
And if that seems inconvenient at times, just remember that they were here first.
Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (firstname.lastname@example.org).