Simplicity Challenge #2: To garden, or not to garden?

A hand holding a radish freshly picked from a vegetable garden

In this case, I’m referring specifically to a vegetable garden.

That’s always the dream, isn’t it?

For so many of us, when we’re super busy every day, always rushing from one task to the next… there’s a very romantic idea about slowing down…

…about living someplace where we can see trees, stars, and the open expanses of the natural world, where we wouldn’t be dependent on anyone. We’d grow what we need, ensuring no pesticides or GMOs ever touch that produce… treating our bodies as temples and being cautious about what we put into our stomachs.

And I know people who accomplish this, despite their busy schedules…

Maybe not out on a farm, though – a home vegetable and herb garden can definitely be accomplished in a backyard, or even on an apartment balcony to some extent…

And frankly, sometimes seeing their success gives me a bit of an inferiority complex… like it’s a ‘simplicity final exam’ and I just failed…

I started shopping at famer’s markets, and that was a big help. The fruits and veggies really were very good!

However, I still felt like, in order to truly live a simple life, I should be more self-sufficient and in tune with nature… and have more experience with growing my own food.

There were two problems with that plan… For starters, I lacked the free time and physical space for a garden (I lived in a 3rd floor apartment at the time); and secondly, I have a black thumb – I have a special gift for taking care of animals (obviously), but plants, on the other hand, sometimes baffle me. I have trouble figuring out what plants want…

Plant drooping? I’ll water it more… Then it gets worse, and someone tells me I’m overwatering it… so, less water? That makes things worse… and soon I’m calling a friend to help me nurse the plant back from the brink of destruction…

Yep, that’s basically how my experience with plants always goes.

Anyways, it was about this time that one of the spiritual teachers in my life, whose opinion I greatly admire and respect, wrote an article in which he mentioned this question, roughly paraphrased by me – “Is it simpler to spend all the time growing your own vegetables, or is it simpler to go to the store and buy them?”

And that got me thinking – it really was simpler for me to go to the store and buy them.

In this case, ‘store’ could mean a traditional grocery store (where organic options exist) or a farmer’s market. Either way, if you look at simplicity in terms of decreasing the to-do lists each day… for me, going to the store really was simpler. 

Not to mention – we all have to make a living. Out there somewhere, people are working hard to grow and sell vegetables. And buying local (at a market, or at the grocery store – thankfully a lot of stores in Boulder do label their local produce, and I hope this is a trend that catches on in other cities) helps to support my community – an added bonus!

We all have different talents. If you enjoy gardening, then I say go for it whole-heartedly! And who knows– maybe someday, at a different point in my life, I’ll decide to learn more and pick up the art of working with plants, too.

But for now, there are only so many hours in a day – and I choose to use those hours doing things other than growing my own food.

What do you all think? Does this sound like a good plan for living simply? What other ideas do you have? Post your thoughts on my Facebook page, here.