Love your garden!

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By Susan Stone

This month I am writing to you from the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains. I am enjoying a much-needed rest at the end of the mountain summer. Although it’s warm now, the leaves and acorns are already beginning to show signs of autumn. The vegetable garden outside the kitchen window has been harvested, composted and covered with fresh straw in preparation for winter.

We are so fortunate in the Lowcountry to be gardening year round! As we select our seeds and prepare for winter crops, I would like to recommend an old book I just took out of the archives recently. It’s called “Behaving As If The God In All Life Mattered,” by Machaelle Small Wright. It is the journey of a novice gardener and her humorous adventures in trial and error. Although you may not consider yourself a novice, there is always more to learn about how we can more effectively work with nature. I have personally adopted many of her suggestions to great effect. Her stories about garden invaders are most entertaining and her solutions really work!

Sometimes we view our gardens as another place of work. The garden depends on us to stay on top of invasive weeds and during times of drought, absolutely depends on us for water. But what we receive back from our gardens, above and beyond the harvest, can keep up us out of the doctor’s office and off the psychiatrist’s couch — literally!

With all the hustle and bustle of our very busy lives, the garden affords us a break from “reality.” It allows us to connect with the Earth and be fed energetically by her. Through the soles of our feet (I like to garden barefoot), we can recharge and ground the energy that makes us reach for an aspirin or a sleeping pill. It soothes the spirit and keeps us from strangling those who get on our last nerve.

This season, try a little experiment. Set aside a portion of the garden to “ignore.” Water and fertilize as you normally would. Treat this portion of the garden just as you always have. But in the other section of garden, try something new. Say a prayer over your seeds, thanking them for the nutritious food they will become. Or to the winter flowers, ask that they be blessed with abundant beauty. And each day after, when you do your garden chores, sing a song or talk to the plants participating in your experiment and thank them every time you visit the garden. And too, remember to ignore all the plants in the other section. The results will astound you. When you love your garden, it responds.

You may feel silly at first, but if you are anywhere close to my age (55) you won’t care who is watching. One of the great benefits of being over 50 is the freedom to be your authentic self. At some point we become unconcerned with the opinions of others and just do what feels right.

If you decide to try this experiment, I would love to hear about your results. I promise to keep you anonymous, so the neighbors won’t talk.

You may send Susan your questions and garden wisdom to theriverangel.ss@gmail.com.

Recipe of the month:

The no-see-um’s love fall as much as the rest of us. As soon as the temperatures get below 80 degrees, they come out hungry. So my recipe for the month is for the best (more effective than deet) bug spray you can make. You’ll smell like Christmas!

• 1 oz. Cinnamon Leaf Oil, about $5 online

• 8-10 oz. Witch Hazel, about $1.50

That’s it! Put it in a spray bottle and shake! Adjust the recipe for strength. Test for sensitivity to the cinnamon, don’t use it straight. Too much of a good thing is still too much!