There is a temptation to look at a vegetable garden as a home-grown food factory, where efficiency is the driving factor. I suspect that most of us have gone through that phase. We try to squeeze the most production out of every last bit of garden space – if it doesn’t put food on the table, then it’s given the same status as a weed.
We need to change that. We need to remember why we grow things, and why we feel a deep connection with the land and with our people. Southern Agrarianism is very much a cultural matter, and our culture has always placed a high value on beauty. We see it in the art, the architecture, and the music of our European heritage. It is an important part of who we are. To that end, we need to remember that there is an aesthetic, almost spiritual, aspect to raising our own food. I make it a point to try to make my garden areas as visually attractive as I can. I plant flowers (usually Zinnias) among the vegetables, both for cut flowers and to attract pollinators into the garden. The garden fence is covered with both bush roses and climbing roses (Old Blush, a vintage rose that requires virtually no care).
A garden is to enjoy – not just to provide our families with fresh eggs and healthy vegetables. It is there to show our children and grandchildren that food does not originate wrapped in cellophane and Styrofoam packaging. It is a very real part of home schooling – no matter where the formal lessons are held.
A garden doesn’t have to look like something from a magazine cover to be beautiful – no garden looks perfectly groomed at all times. Just remember that it is there to be enjoyed, and beauty makes it enjoyable.
This is a 90-second tour of our little one-acre homestead that I put together this past Friday.