First off, I have to say that my gardens don't look like that of my grandmother's time. They don't even look like that of my mother's. But, as I learn and develop my rhythms at "living greener" perhaps my grandchildren will look back at their "grandmum's" gardens as something special and something to emulate in their own lives.
I grew up on a farm and our gardens were fields of strawberries, cucumbers, and such. I hated "gardening". I hated planting; I hated hoeing; I hated picking. I couldn't wait to get out of the fields.
And then I got married and we had a small garden. My husband took care of it.
Now, years later, I am gardening again. Although I still don't relish the hoeing (at all) I do enjoy my time in the outdoors, getting my hands dirty and connecting with Mother Earth. Oh how age makes us Wiser!
My gardening has changed, over these few years of re-discovering this vital component of living. I started with trying everything. I then dwindled down my list of plants to something manageable. Then I became selective and only planted things that we LOVED to eat.
And now, with my history of what I am good at growing and what doesn't work so well, I have, I think, settled on my personal way of gardening. Some things I grow myself, but others I purchase in bulk at a local farmer's market. I have found that I rarely get enough beans, for example, to can up 14 pints at a time. It's easier to buy the beans for canning and grow what beans we want for eating fresh. I have yet to grow a decent cabbage or cauliflower, so my energy is better spent on other things and these items also come from the market.
I have also found that I'm really good at growing fruit -- just let Mother Nature do her thing. And so I have a lot of fruit trees, bushes and vines on the property -- and these create the framework for my garden paths, my pride-and-joy of my yard.
My paths: one day this summer, I looked out at my busy yard and thought, "when that was all grass, it looked pretty and I could stand here and enjoy its beauty. But, now that it is getting so full and I have such beautiful paths to walk, I spend about half an hour (sometimes several times a day) just walking the paths, checking on the changes that are happening. My yard is now an interactive place that I can enjoy."
The other component of my gardens is my Mini-Carolinian Forest. I live near the northern limits of the Carolinian Forest region and, with this being farming area, most of the native trees have been cut down. My goal has been to add as many native trees to my yard as can fit. I'm not sure what the tally is but space-wise, I think I'm about done planting trees.
But one never knows… a gardener can always find room for "just one more".