Garden riches

The joyful responsibility of planting, tending, and harvesting my friend’s/neighbor’s raised beds was handed largely to me in the Spring. It was soooooo good to get back to the earth and the devic life of gardens and flower beds.

Growing food in the house over the winter included starting tomatoes and squashes. It was tremendous fun. The plant devas were chatty and happy; they filled my little home with their sparkle and bliss. But, boy, you let plants have freedom of root, wind, and sunshine, give them the water they need and a garden sounds like a well-tuned orchestra playing their heart’s content into the world. The birds, bees, and pollinators of all kinds hear and see the profuse harmony. They flock daily to the garden beds adding their voice, wings, hum and audible yum.

On top of beauty, joy, integrated-being, and just plain fun, the gardens produced food that was shared with five households plus a few other people randomly. And, if that weren’t enough, between 60 and 80 pounds of green tomatoes of multiple varieties was harvested, given away, pickled, fried, and continue to ripen in the cold back of a closet. They will serve one meditation retreat here in Jaroso, CO in mid-October and will bless my breakfast eggs for a month to come. The pickled jewels of heirloom and common cherry and grape tomatoes will add fermented yummies to my plates through the winter for good heallth and staving off winter germs.






It all starts with a few seeds, soil, water, and sunshine. If you have a window that gets moderate sun, try lettuces, cilantro, or arugula. They all do best when left to sit in the dark of a closet or under a bed for three days, soil moistened, then out to the window or table by a window. Be patient, talk to the babies, and enjoy them lighting up your room with their presence. In time, thin or cut what you want and eat on the spot! Chard also grew well in my house over the cold months. I have it inside now from the porch.

As everything grows, tending is next. For me, it is the delight of being with the plants, nurturing their process, supporting their innate wisdom of how to BE what they are. That includes giving everything to any other being that wants what they have to offer. In many ways, plants are supreme teachers: generous without question, giving of their being, steadfast and forgiving as the gardener prunes and uproots, thins and culls. Plus, plants know how to get along with each other better than …. . Some grow tall and shade the ones that need less sun; some grow down, deep into the soil and aerate the soil in the process. Some invite pests but then know what to do with them, others seem to distract and disallow pests just by their presence.

Butterflies, humming birds, wild bees and honey bees, plus all kinds of little flying insects feast on pollen and nectar. Flowers become produce if it’s a veggie flower or become seeds for next season’s planting. What’s not to like! Then the herbs are cut, hung to dry, and put in jars for Christmas give-away,  my spice cabinet, or the tea pot.


Due to the profusion of tomatoes, pickling tomatoes was a new experience and experiment for me. All I can say is “OMG, these things are delicious!” I just sampled the first batch – put in the dark closet 4 days ago. A neighbor came by and, yup, she went home with a jar!

In addition to end of the season cleaning of the gardens, putting plants to bed, and bringing in the porch planter boxes, we broke ground for the modest garden plan for “my” house. Those who contributed to the House Built from Kindness crowd-funding of last year, thank you. The garden plan is begun with funds from that kindness. So, seeds of indigenous perennial flowers are being sown, four kinds of mint are in the ground, and we’ll be ready to go in the Spring with fun in the sun and joy with the soil and plant devas.

Hope you have this much fun in your life too. (Lunch of homegrown organic lettuce, tomatoes, and tuna fish on gluten-free organic toast.) And, as the world changes, growing one’s own food organically, sharing it with neighbors, not driving to a store but picking it yourself, is sooooo cool!

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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4 Responses to Garden riches

  1. I am also planning on growing some winter greens in my 2 window boxes this winter. Any special cautions and advice? I have a few rectangular plastic planters with their trays. Some organic planter mix from Petree Nursery. Lettuce, Arugala, and a spicy salad mix. A few herbs too. I miss fresh greens in the winter so much. I am trying to get Farmer Daniel from Cerro Farm to make a giant Walipini for winter greens. But…. I think he likes a winter break from farming.

    • Hi Maria, go for it! The standing water hydroponics (with hydroponic additive for nourishment to the plants) did very well. The soil-based planters did also, but at some point the soil-based got aphids and “thrifts.” (That’s what Jane calls them.) I never had either in MA. Never even heard of thrifts. So, I think there is something about the overall dryness of the environment and the moistness of the soil. One tray of bok choy ended up with aphids from another soil-based plant. I harvested the bok choy, washed it in a weak cider vinegar solution and rinsed thoroughly and cooked the bok choy.

      BioCare is a resource for home-safe, no chemicals little fly-paper strips that can be put in the soil-based boxes IF the little flying thrifts magically appear. They work well.

      My guess is that each environment is unique. These two little “hiccups” came toward the end of the winter, so I had already eating enjoyed lettuce, cilantro, arugula, and bok choy for a few weeks before they appeared. All the starter plants for June planting also were without issue. It could have been simply that lettuce likes a constantly moist soil. Pick off the bottom leaves as they wither and the bigger leaves grow. I think the “pests” like the decaying mini-environment.

  2. carolee says:

    A lovely, uplifting post. Thanks for sharing and good luck in the upcoming season.

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