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A Year of Health Begins with Inspiration

by Jan Christensen

“Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny.” –David Spangler, the Afterword to The Findhorn Garden

Holiday Season is over. It’s the beginning of Health Season! Now is the time to begin a year-long plan that will drastically improve your health over the next twelve months. You’re going to like this. Start by identifying the most comfortable chair in your house. Make sure it’s in a cozy spot, with a table handy for a cup of tea. A nearby sunny window that looks out over your yard will be helpful. This is where you will sit to look through your seed catalogs. You might already have seed catalogs arriving in the mail. If the seed companies have given up on you, order some. You need them. Your physical, spiritual, and mental health depend on it. This is February. Shortest, but dreariest month. This is the time to inspire yourself to create enthusiasm for a garden that will last for the rest of the year. Spend some time with those seed catalogs. Turn down the corners of the pages. Look at the pictures and feel your mouth water. Think about salads and ragouts and slow simmered winter stews. Peas off the vine. Tomatoes warm from the sun. Make lists. Don’t look at prices–this is your health we’re talking about. Spend some time looking at your yard, and remember what it looks like under the snow. Plan where bits of garden can be tucked in here and there to fit with your landscaping. A shady spot for lettuces. Peppers, tomatoes, eggplants in the sun. Snap peas on the south side of a building with warm soil so they can be planted early–maybe as early as March. Draw pictures and maps. If you don’t have much space, look for opportunities for climbing vines to take production vertical. Think about your soil. Most city soils are hard as rock and have been terribly abused. You might need to get some advice. Take a field trip to Will’s Country Market at 5500 W. Silver Spring Drive and learn about worms–they can help you do the hard work of soil conditioning. For quick success the first year, you might want to install a small raised garden. Last year I assembled a tiny one, about the size of a kitchen table, from wood salvaged from the alley behind a rehab project. With the help of a couple of friends, I hauled soil in bushel baskets from Kellner Greenhouses at 3258 N. Humboldt Ave. It took a couple of trips. I raised lettuces, greens, and herbs in that little garden all summer. I just harvested my last handful of Siberian kale in mid-January. So take the first step in a year of health. Let planning your garden raise your spirits in the dark of winter. Let spring planting help you get back in shape from the inactivity of cold weather. Eat something from your garden every day–even if it’s a sprig of parsley on your way to work. It will connect you with this planet and help your body remember where it comes from. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 2 – February 2003