Jack & The Beanstalk: The Simple Way To Make The Leap Into Growing Your Own Garden

Jack & The Beanstalk: The Simple Way To Make The Leap Into Growing Your Own Garden Hero Image

I think of my farm-life dream as a promiscuous idea auditioning, because fertile — excuse the pun — ideas are the kind that take root and spread seeds. Talking about sowing seeds, the months of optimism are in the air and seed catalogs are at their most seductive. Now I'm sure no one would have me pegged as the kind of gal that flits through said catalogs, but I like to know my squash from my artichoke, my hydrangeas from my sunflowers; well, at least I want to follow their lovely faces as they track the sun and pick them by the armful to fill my home.

I'm trying to make the leap from passive (sometimes aggressive) supermarket consumer to conscientious healthy-food advocate who grows her own herbs. I may not have a garden that yields fresh produce (yet), but I've taken the first step — one that anyone can — with an Herb Garden Kit from By Nature that fulfills a cultivating-a-crop dream for the time being. Of course, my dream also entails wild rose, lavender, chamomile, and rosemary creeping up a stone wall but I still have to check if that's actually viable. I think it would be grand to watch seeds become plants knowing that they could end up in my cooking, or even nestled within homemade beauty experimentations.

In the beauty business, pioneering brands including Weleda and Dr. Hauschka have harvested their own homegrown plants since the mid-1990s, following biodynamic farming principles that involve growing organically and according to seasonal and planetary rhythms. The Australian brand Jurlique grows 95 percent of the plants required for its active blends — the key ingredient in each product.

Imagine what I could make if I grew the plants myself...And I think about all the possibilities of natural dyes that my crops would yield. I'd make lip stains from cherries, and beets and blush from marigolds. I'd make rinses from nettles and chamomiles, and perfume myself with wild geranium. I'd put juniper berries in gin, and mulberries in pies. Maybe I'll make like Michelle Obama and start matching my tee to the season — straight up marigold yellow for late summer gardening.

When I lived in London, the dream was slightly tinged by thoughts of sickly badgers, unfriendly farmers, and nearby chilly B&Bs. I haven't quite got my head around the animal component just yet, but I'm not shying away from it either. In America, I'm thinking country and then I'm thinking its music screams divorce, drinking, and jail. Wise? Would I go on fishing trips and get intimate with a lawnmower? Only time will tell, or as Rich Saul Wurman said, "There's an enormous difference between beating a notion to death and beating an idea into shape."

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