National Organic Week Day 3: Why We Garden Organically

The first of May is a significant date for our family. It is the date we celebrate the ownership of our current home. It is also the date that signifies a significant change in our family's lifestyle, as we finally realised on this very date our hoped for dream of living a little more rurally, and a little less influenced by the rat race we had previously experienced, while living in the Big Smoke of Auckland City.

The first of May, all those years ago now, was to prove to be a turning point day. With two very small children with significant allergy issues, I was determined to make the most of our backyard area to grow healthy non-allergy triggering food. During much of that first winter in our new home, I was out and about, rain or shine, digging up and over ground to plant out as much vegetables as I could.

It was hard work breaking ground with my spade. I had to work when I could around baby naps and looking after a preschooler. Sometimes I chose to simply dig a hole and pop a bowl of kitchen scraps in, before then topping that same very hole up with dug over soil and with a vegetable plant of choice.

The Warehouse was a good source of cheap vegetable punnets at the time, as we had a limited budget for starting a garden, being a single income family. I would read as much as I could about gardening and I sought also the wisdom of those more experienced gardeners in our extended family. I was determined to make the most of what land and space we had, and it simply had to be successful, because I felt within my mama heart that my children's health literally depended on it!

Then the slugs and snails invaded. I couldn't believe just how many of these pesky critters could turn up as if from nowhere over night. Why were they coming in to our garden in such legions? It seemed as though every slithering revolting pest anywhere within literally kilometres of our property had been told to meet for a banquet of produce at our place. I was livid and I was frustrated beyond belief. This was MY hard work going up in smoke, at the hands of some very unwanted trespassers.

I wasn't prepared to share even one lettuce leaf with these ghastly invaders. As the lioness mother wanting to ensure her cubs were safe and feed with food that wouldn't trigger any further bleeding skin eruptions or heart wrenching asthma episodes, I declared war in my mind and sought to bomb those invaders out of my territory.

Slug repellant pellets. I had wanted to avoid any sprays within our garden, so it seemed a fairly reasonable compromise to use these instead. Yet, as I started to scatter the very first handfuls, that still small voice that occasionally speaks to me spoke, "Trust me." Now for those that are not religious folk, you may think this was simply my own mind speaking to me, yet I know that I know that it wasn't.

Right there, in my garden I know for sure the Spirit of God spoke to me that day, and I was about to wrestle with Him. "But I need to feed my children! I need to grow food for them, because what they need is too expensive for us to keep buying at the supermarket!!" This was the reasoning I threw back at this still, small voice.

Again, and again as I threw up my reasoning and my frustration the still, small voice spoke those same few words to me, "Trust me." It was a moment in time I will never forget as a believer and also as a new mother. It was a moment that would prove to be so significant in how we moved forward as a family, and also as property owners.

I chose that day to pick up every single piece of scattered slug repellant pellet I had just laid out and put it all back in the packet. I chose to get rid of that packet of poison and not to lay even one tiny trace of it within the boundaries of our property. It was a terribly significant decision and a rather solemn one also. It was, as a concerned and worried parent, one of the hardest things I have chosen to do. I was trusting somewhat blindly that God would somehow rectify the destruction occurring right before my eyes, plus also take care of our family's needs every day after.

Nine years later, I can testify that gardening what I call 'God's Way," that is in a purely organic, earth-friendly manner, has proven to not only supply our family, but also neighbours, extended family and friends, with an abundance of beautiful fruit and vegetables I could never have dreamt possible.

When we learnt about the Back to Eden Gardening Method over the years that followed, it seemed as if everything we had ever learnt about gardening, and successful gardening to boot, was turned upside down. No tilling? No additional artificial fertilizing? The list of things that I thought I needed to do required major adjustment. I was choosing to practice gardening in a way that was so contrary to much I had learnt previously.

We learnt about companion planting. We learnt about beneficial insects. We learnt about permaculture. We learnt about the importance of seed saving and how after three generations, seed will be produced that is perfect for your very own garden. We have learnt about food preserving and also about the sense of community that comes with sharing your surplus with others.

That unique balance that was required to bring less pests into our garden did result and the fruit of our labours did indeed fruit, and fruit very well. The results occurring within the walls of our very own backyard garden have shown us that the best examples of tasty, nutrient rich food can be achieved without any chemical interference at all. Gardening with an emphasis on organic methods & practices has been central to the healing we needed in our family.

We garden organically because we have children who have had significant allergy issues throughout their childhoods and it was the only way forward. I used to despair over the bloody sheets on our son's bed, which were the result of yet another bout of his skin screaming out loud about how irritated it was feeling.

Watching our daughter struggle for breath with yet another episode of asthma or another bout of pneumonia was always just so heartwrenching. I have felt powerless at times as a parent, and seeking to do better on the food providing front seemed to always be more and more the key to unlocking the healing the children each needed. It has been and it is the significant key that I genuinely believe made a huge difference to their health and well-being.

Now, with each child in their later primary age years, we can look back with hindsight and know for sure that a debate over layering down a non-organic, chemical laced cocktail trap for pests is not one we need ever engage in. We know firsthand the truth and the benefits of organic gardening practices. The results of gardening and leading a more organic lifestyle have spoken for themselves via the restoration of the health of actual family members.

Our dream now is to take what we have learnt within the confines of our small rural village backyard and apply it to organically farm a small lifestyle block. We hope this will become a reality in the very near future. We choose hands down to always garden and produce food for our table in a way that is both earth-friendly and health-friendly, because it is so vividly clear to us that both are intertwined with each other. Organic gardening? We highly, highly recommend it.

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