The squirrels and I are at war and so far the squirrels are winning. I plant the seeds, they dig them up and either eat them or carry them off somewhere else in the garden and bury them. My role is to curse them and to patch up the mess they’ve caused and to wonder if this ‘Grow Your Own’ lark is worth it when it feels like I’m fighting a losing battle against the forces of nature.
The voice of reason (i.e. my partner) tells me that the squirrels are only doing what squirrels do. They don’t know that they’re messing up my precious bean and coriander planting. To them it’s food. In fact, with all the planting I’ve done recently, it’s a positive food festival bonanza for the squirrels in the back garden.
Growing Vegetables from Seed
This year I’ve planted lettuce and rocket, French beans, kale, beetroot, spring onions and pak choi all from seed. I also planted courgettes but there’s no sign of them yet so I suspect they got eaten by the squirrels.
And not forgetting the various herbs I’ve planted; oregano and mint, dill, fennel, thyme, chives and nasturtiums.
Dealing with the Forces of Nature
But it’s not only the squirrels waging war on my precious seedlings. There’re the pigeons, and their love for green leafy veg, to deal with too and the foxes that never miss an opportunity to dig a deep hole where it’s not needed. And that’s before we even get on to every gardener’s foe – the slugs and snails.
And then there’s the English weather. Last year we had to deal with drought followed by floods and this year all planting has been delayed by at least a month because of one of the longest and coldest Springs on record.
Gardening is Not for Wimps
Apart from my battles with nature there is also my body to consider. Let’s face it, gardening is not for wimps and it appears that despite my best efforts at regular gym attendance, I do still have the body of a wimp.
The physical rigours of digging the vegetable patch, carrying bags of compost and hours of endless weeding and planting have taken their toll and I am currently nursing a lower back spasm and a right arm and shoulder that I can barely move for the pain.
This has meant twice-weekly visits to the osteopath and sleepless nights due to pain, but I persevere. Whatever it takes, I am determined to grow my own vegetables and tend my garden.
Is Growing Your Own Vegetables Worth It?
By now, the question you’re probably asking is, is it worth it? After all, the hundreds of pounds I’m paying for osteopathic treatment comes to far more than any savings I would make by growing my own vegetables.
Why not pack it in, save myself some trouble and heartache and just buy all my veg from Tesco’s? Far easier, right?
And to that I would say, of course it’s worth it. And here’s why…
Why Growing Your Own Vegetables is Worth It
Experiencing Joy, Serenity and Flow
Because when I’m working in the garden I feel joy and serenity. I experience ‘flow’ in the sense that I lose track of time, hours fly by and I don’t even feel the need to stop for food or rest (highly unusual).
Gardening as Meditation
My partner always remarks on how happy I look when I’m working in the garden. I find gardening to be a form of meditation in the way it clears my mind. I forget my problems, tend not to think about anything, and just focus on the tasks at hand.
Getting Close to Nature
I love the feeling of fresh compost between my fingers, the smell of the earth. I love watching the earthworms wriggle about in freshly turned soil and spotting the robin redbreasts hovering close by to catch them.
Creating Order out of Chaos
I love the satisfaction of weeding and digging and seeing how much better everything looks afterwards. The sense of order and control one gains from a newly weeded border is not to be sniffed at.
Witnessing the Miracle of Creation
Mostly, I love the thrill of watching a plant grow. Witnessing the miracle of creation as the seed I planted breaks through the soil with a single green shoot, then nurturing it as leaves appear and vegetables finally take shape, brings me incredible joy and satisfaction.
The Joy of the Harvest
And then there’s the harvesting and eating of something you have grown with your own hands and toil. I love the sense of creating something out of nothing, of being connected to nature and being self-sufficient in a small way.
A Treat for the Tastebuds
Finally, there’s the taste of home grown vegetables. They are sweeter, tastier and more vibrant on the palate than anything shop bought. It’s a bit like rediscovering your taste buds and realising what all the fuss is about when it comes to fresh vegetables.
So, I will persevere with me aches and pains and the slugs and squirrels. I’ll arm myself with slug pellets and protective mesh and go out there and do whatever it takes to save my precious vegetables from harm.
Gardening is great for Mental Health
Because growing your own vegetables and tending a garden is definitely worth it. It may not always make sense financially, but the sense of mental wellbeing you can derive from it is priceless.
Do you grow your own veg? If so why? Do you have any tips to share? I’d love to read about your experiences so please leave a comment in the box below.
Read my Tales from the Vegetable Patch 2012:
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 1 – Planning and Preparation
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 2 – Sowing Seeds
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 3 – Life and Death
Tales from the Vegetable Patch: Part 4 – The First Harvest