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  1. I love this idea. We finally moved to a place that has room for a large garden, but I find myself with so much space and so little practical experience that it feels daunting. I suggest to you that if you are serious about being more insistent with your students you may want to give them some exact guidelines on how to get started. Make it more like a true assignment with a kind of rubric to follow. Once they have the experience of starting small and precise they will be able to add and adjust each year in the future based on the first experience.

    1. Michelle M, Thank you very much–that is a great idea. I will plan to do that. Perhaps once I come up with the precise assignment I can post it here. Thanks again.

      1. I would really love it if you posted it here. I am the Mom of millennials and the granddaughter of depression-era Midwesterners who gardened, canned their harvest, fished, cleaned and cooked their catch, hunted, sewed, etc., etc. Somewhere between their generation and mine all those skills were lost in our family. My grandmother died when I was in high school and didn’t see the full value of it all. Learning to garden DOES teach so many things–about God and about REAL life. My only obstacle seems to be my fear of failure, so it seem to me that if someone could just walk me (or anyone) through the early stages and be a resource, it would be quite a help to get over that fear of failure.

  2. Michelle, I can relate with your situation. When I first started gardening (with so little knowledge), I didn’t know where to start. So, I chose three things I knew were forgiving to any gardener: tomatoes, bush beans, and peas. I dedicated them in honor of my two grandfathers who had passed on, both Midwestern farmers who could grow anything. I’ve done the same thing ever since, and have always had good batches. It is daunting starting out, but gardening in its essence is about keeping things simple and doing one thing at a time. Practical knowledge quickly accumulates.

    I think the key is to start with a few things that generally grow well and are forgiving to the gardener. Tomatoes, beans, and peas are great starters. Bean and peas miraculously shoot up through the ground quickly, so there is early inspiration to continue on. You can plant those from seed. The peas will want something to hold on to. Bush beans don’t need anything except the sun and some water. For tomatoes, I recommend purchasing starter plants from a nursery. Select what you will actually use – cherry tomatoes if you like salads or want a little snack, larger tomatoes if you’d like to slice them for a BLT sandwich or even for making pasta sauce. For something sweet, raspberries have no peer. They grow anywhere, multiply, can be transplanted with ease, produce abundantly throughout a season, and everyone loves them. You can start a magnificent raspberry patch with as few as two or three raspberry plants from a nursery or a neighbor. And you don’t have to start over every year.

    If you have a small plot of ground or even a pot that you can have close by your backdoor, put in a green onion plant. It is a perennial and will produce year after year. Add a starter plant of basil and thyme, sprinkle in a few lettuce seeds, and you will be able to pop out of your back door and quickly pluck ingredients that are wonderful additions for dinner.

    All of these plants are easy to grow, need just a little water and some sun, and will inspire you to do even more next year.

    1. Anthony,
      I thank you very much for sharing this. You are so right: practical knowledge accumulates quickly. there is very good reason that Xenophon insists that anyone can grow food from the earth. And even if one never expands beyond a few basic things, this simple gardening can have a great place in our life!
      Michelle M,
      There certainly must be resources out there that can ‘hold our hand,’ as it were–though I admit I don’t know where they are. I appreciate your sharing the paralysis you feel, and I am going think more about how I might be able to bring more resources to my site here.

  3. Thanks for this great series on gardening. This final article was very inspiring…I’m headed out to take “my medicine”.

    1. Abi, It makes me very happy to think of you taking your medicine. Thanks for the image. Enjoy…

  4. I just listened to your Institute of Catholic Culture “Living Liturgy” lecture and found it compelling, so I came over here to your blog to see what else you had to say. Then I came across this speech by Fabrice Hadjadj: Rediscovering the “Language of Wood”: Why Can’t We Just Substitute “Be Fruitful and Multiply” with “Connect and Download”? ( http://humanumreview.com/articles/rediscovering-the-language-of-wood-why-cant-we-just-substitute-be-fruitful-and-multiply-with-connect-and-download ). It includes many of the same themes, and I know it would resonate with you. How great is our unconsidered loss as we increasingly disconnect ourselves and our children from the land? I so much appreciate your challenging us to seriously consider how we ought to live, rather than allowing ourselves to be swept along by the prevailing winds. Thank you!