“We may have to learn again the mystery of the garden: how its external characteristics model the heart itself, and how the soul is a garden enclosed, our own perpetual paradise where we can be refreshed and restored.”
— Thomas Moore, “The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life,” 1996
In the aftermath of a presidential election rife with mud-slinging and angst, I’ve decided to devote this week’s column to sharing my plans for a healing garden. My vision for this garden is to create a space that embodies the motto “Keep Calm” and is filled with sensory-pleasing food crops that will cleanse and nourish my body and soul.
I’ll grow herbs, fruits and vegetables that are known to combat anxiety, purge toxins and help control high blood pressure. I suspect I may need extra protection in the months to come.
My source for planning crops for my healing garden is “Rx from the Garden: 101 Food Cures You Can Easily Grow” (2011) by Kathleen Barnes. She reminds us that we’ve known about the therapeutic qualities of food for millennia. The Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.E.) advised long ago, “Let food be your medicine.”
To help reduce anxiety and stress, Barnes recommends lettuce, celery, green beans, peaches, raspberries, borage, chamomile and basil.
To eliminate toxins from the body, she suggests beets, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, strawberries, watermelon and bell peppers.
Blueberries, which are sometimes referred to as a “super food,” help reduce anxiety and body toxins.
Recommended garden remedies for hypertension include garlic, spinach, sunflowers and dried beans.
Barnes suggests potatoes to help relieve stress and high blood pressure.
Now that I have the prescription for my healing garden, I need to schedule when to plant. The “Garden Guide for the Rogue Valley” (2007) provides a useful calendar for when to sow seeds and transplant seedlings in our area. Here’s my schedule:
February: Direct seed spinach; transplant onion sets and strawberries
March: Direct seed carrots, leaf lettuce, bulb onions and more spinach; plant cane fruits (blueberries, raspberries) and new fruit trees
April: Direct seed beets, more carrots and more leaf lettuce; transplant bok choy and celery
May: Plant potatoes and sweet potatoes, direct seed basil, beans, borage, chamomile, sunflowers and more beets; transplant bell peppers and watermelon
June: Direct seed basil, beans and beets; transplant more bell peppers
August: Direct seed Walla Walla onions for overwintering; transplant fall variety of broccoli
September: Direct seed lettuce and onions; transplant more broccoli, celery and bok choy
October/November: Plant garlic
Territorial Seed Company offers a free (for 7 days) online Garden Planner that allows me to lay out my garden beds, figure out how many plants I need, and plan irrigation, succession planting and crop rotation. I can also print out a chart that shows me when to sow seeds, plant seedlings and harvest crops. The Garden Planner is available at: http://gardenplanner.territorialseed.com.
Besides the plants I grow in my healing garden, I want to pay attention to other features that help to create a tranquil, cleansing refuge from daily stressors. Such calming features include moving or reflective water, lighting for night-time garden visits and comfortable seating to relax and contemplate.
In the “Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life,” Thomas Moore reminds us that nature, including our garden, offers daily wonderments if only we will take the time to notice them. He continues, “Enchantment can provide a solid base for an ethical response to the world we live in; for morality doesn’t come out of nowhere.”
— Rhonda Nowak is a member of the Jackson County Master Gardener Association and teaches writing at Rogue Community College. Email her at email@example.com.