Gardening For Wellness and Traditions

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My garden is my sanctuary from the world. I meditate through the work that I do, thrive with each new leaf, and carry the memory of each season's lessons.  Gardening is therapy and good medicine. I love passing down the traditions that I've carried with me from my Great-Grandparents and sharing them with my children and grandchildren is how we connect.

Garden pathways

From solid paver pathways to soft pea gravel paths that wind through the bushes and raised beds, choosing the right garden pathway doesn't have to be “set in stone.”  Start small with your pathway designs. If you aren't 100% sure, go with a low-impact surface like mulch over heavy weed barriers and carve out your pathway.  You can easily lay natural stones over the top, or pavers can be seated for something more solid. 
 
Over the years, I've learned that gardens are movable.  Sometimes things come up that are unavoidable, or you simply need the area for something else. I remember my Great-Grandmother would plant her beds, decide she wanted more light or something else, then dig everything up and move it!  Leaving that bed for something else later. 
 
I like having paths that can be adjusted without the fuss. This is why I prefer softer surface walkways like pea gravel and inlaid stepping stones.  I've moved my own vegetable beds so many times!
 
This summer, I've decided to relocate my bed to a much larger area outside the gate so that I can grow more pumpkins and melons.  So once again, I'll be starting over with fresh beds and garden pathways to construct.  At the end of last summer, we decided to add a pool and a paved walkway to a lower patio. Which meant I needed to move my herb and tomato beds.  I'm excited to see how this summer's garden will grow!
 

Related: DIY Tomato Supports

Pea gravel garden pathway

The dogs also love to nap on the warm stones in the sunshine!  

Growing Herbs and Vegetables For Wellness

Almost everything I grow in my garden has a purpose. My raised beds are filled with vegetables and herbs, I have strawberry pots scattered all around, and my flower beds all have combinations of flowers for cutting and herbs for different things like bath salts, oil infusions, and salves.

I've always had a garden my whole life. Some were small patio gardens, a collection of pots filled with food and flowers.  Others were well cultivated and expanded every inch of the backyard.  But I have a great need to grow things, and it takes up a great deal of time and thought in how and where I'm going to be setting my next garden bed. 

I love watching the life in my garden grow, it instills great peace, and you can't help but feel calmer and happier when you are out in the garden.   It helps me walk in the memories of my heritage and pass down traditions to my family.  

I really loved teaching my youngest how to can tomatoes and vegetables and see her take that knowledge and branch off to making her own blends of jams.  My boys also discovered their own love of gardening, and each has their own patios full of peppers, tomatoes, and herbs.  

Related: How To Start Growing Tomatoes

gardening for wellness

Choosing Which Plants To Grow

My general rule is only to take on as much as you can handle without help.  While it's nice to think that friends and family will always come, the reality is that you can't force people to have your passion.  So I divide my garden up to about 50/50 flowers and food. 

I spend months planning out what areas will need the most work and time and what areas I can grow without as much maintenance.   So while my tomatoes need daily love, my cosmos need almost no attention at all.  

Don't overcrowd your garden or your mind!

One of the hardest lessons for me was not to overcrowd my garden beds. I get so excited about filling those beautiful empty beds with tiny sprouts that I have overcrowded many beds and had to spend hours transplanting and thinning my beds.

If you don't thin, you will get fungus and bug issues.  One time, I even had a rabbit give birth to her babies in the center of my raised bed! 

I try to think of being patient about what goes into a bed as a metaphor for not bringing too much clutter into my own life and mind.  You have to be mindful about what you allow to occupy your time and thoughts, and sometimes you have to be firm and just pull out what no longer has a purpose!

Gardening For Health

Gardening is my passion. I love the way that I can push my body to do amazing things.  I've often been amazed as I think over the day that I was able to move a hundred pounds of mulch or soil, dig for hours to plant new beds, and stretch to pull weeds from crazy spots that they grow.  I've struggled with Lyme Disease and Fibromyalgia most of my life.  There are times when I feel like it's a struggle to get out of bed and fight the pain to put on my shoes. 

But during the growing season, I'm out the door by 7 am and dragging myself out of the dirt to have lunch on the patio before going back out. Sometimes at night, I'm rubbing a CBD muscle cream into my aching joints.  Yet, I would never dream of not going out the next day to do it again. 

I get the best exercise in the garden. I'm burning calories when I'm pulling my wagon loaded with tools, mulch, and bushes across the field.  I'm working my muscles when I'm building new raised beds, tying up trellises, and trimming trees.  I know that all of my hard work means my family is eating delicious meals from my efforts. 

garden spring rolls

Crysta's Favorite Garden Spring Rolls

I love grabbing some rice paper, dipping it in a bowl of water, and filling it full of the day's fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies.  

I always have rice noodles in my kitchen that are quick to make ahead and leave in the fridge, and it adds a nice filler for the rolls.   You can also toss in leftover rice, lettuce, or spinach! Then wrap it up, and the rice paper sticks together.

My favorite combination is rice noodles, peaches, corn relish, banana peppers,  and cilantro.  

We dip it in our Thai Sweet Chili sauce! 

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