Slow Gardening

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

First there was “slow food”, then there was “slow money”, and now we have arrived at “slow gardening”.

Very much like the Slow Food Movement, “Slow Gardening” is a term coined by a man named Felder Rushing.

Felder is a retired horticultural extension agent from Jackson, MS, and the term "slow gardening" refers to developing you own personal philosophy about gardening.

In other words, what's right for you and only you, not your neighbor down the street or keeping up with the latest gardening gadgets and techniques. That also means that no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong for, if it works for you then it works and is not wrong.

Now this is a gardening practice that is right up my alley and maybe yours too.

For example, if you're a lazy gardener plant a garden that requires little effort to take care of. If your favorite vegetables are tomatoes and cucumbers, then just plant these two vegetables. If you like fresh flowers in the house, pick a few varieties that hold up well and plant them.

Slow gardening is also about enjoying your garden and thus if your flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds make sure you have a nice garden seat where you can watch the action. Some people take it all far too serious, especially also some “chairmen” of allotment societies.

Not only that, Rushing is all for conserving and protecting resources. In the articles and in his book he mentions that gardeners should choose plants that have little need for fertilizer, insect sprays or supplemental water once they are established.

This sounds a lot like eco-friendly gardening to me and that is a good thing. The problem is that there is always, it would seem, need to water some plants throughout the growing season, especially if they are food plants.

With reference to planting those plants that work for you or that are you preferences don't let anyone force you to grow something else. I have problems, for instance, though I do like them, with growing tomatoes where I live.

Some of it may be due to me not giving them the right care. However, for the last three years running the blight claimed them again and again and I have now decided to do without and rather concentrate on something else.

I love a variety of brassicas but so do the local pigeons around here and while I had thought about abandoning the cabbage growing I have now decided that the answer is going to be – in fact has to be – netting cages.

On the other hand there are beans also, which I absolutely love, especially the runner beans, and not just in their green stage for they are nothing but Lima Beans after all.

They grow without all that much of a help, as long as they have somewhere to climb on and providing them with a stick teepee is not too much of a problem.

I must say though that I do believe in not overdoing things, seeing that I also work as a gardener during the day, and thus I believe for one in the non-dig gardening method using only planters and planting bags.

The latter are what we call in the UK “Builder's Bags” made from woven polypropylene and are also referred to as “tonne bags” and it is obvious why. As they are about capable of holding a tonne of soil.

The “walls” come up to about 3ft and thus you have a growing medium for very deep root growing and also you don't have to – ever – dig or such in the plot, that is to say, planter.

Using this “deep root” method also means that you do not need to adhere at all to the spacing guidelines on the seed packets. Also, when it comes to carrots do not bother with the “thinning out”; just let them grown.

The “deep root” method allows, as suggested above, for a much greater plant density and thus for more food from a small plot.

Take it easy, garden slowly...

© 2012