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Productivity in the Age of ME, Part II -- The Garden

Whenever I think about gardens and healing, invariably I think of


With some CBT and GET, I'm sure Collin will get over needing that wheelchair in no time!

However, as @Gondwanaland pointed out recently in regards to her newly-gained PhD :balloons::balloons::balloons: it really does help to have a project one can work towards. The feeling of responsibility and nurturance followed by accomplishment is something too often denied us as people with an energy-sapping illness.

This helps all human beings on planet earth so far as I'm concerned, but it's a process that may seem out of reach. And I'll be honest with you. So far as I'm concerned, there are few feelings not directly linked to the illness that are worse than beginning a hopeful little project and getting too ill to finish it.

But last year, I maintained a garden in which very few plants bit the bullet. Delicious and healthful herbs and vegetables were the result. (In fact, we had such a mild winter where I am that some of them are still alive!)


Yes, I AM proud enough of having grown this carrot to have immediately photographed it.
There are several M.E.-related tactics and techniques I used in order to keep my garden growing and not tip over into crashitude.

I. Getting seeds.

I'm trying to make this one timely, guys. If you are in Zone 6 or thereabouts, it is time to order your seeds now. If you are in a lower-number zone (4, say) you should still order your seeds soon, but you have the luxury of garden-planning and shopping around, because you can start your seeds inside in March. The rest of us need to get the lead out.

Seeds are cheap, so order a bunch of stuff. You can spend less than $20 and get enough seeds so that it is way more than you will ever actually plant. While I spent some money on seeds last year, I think it amounted to $10 worth.

Seeds for cheap:
  • You can spend zero dollars by asking friends and family if they have any 'old' seeds. A surprising number of people toss their old seeds, or keep them but don't intend to use them again; and seed-sellers fill a packet with hundreds of seeds sometimes, like we are all farmers growing cucumbers on several acres. My friend once bought a 'kit' for a garden and used about 1/3 of the seeds. She wasn't planning on doing it again last year, so she gave me all her leftovers.
  • I went to a local farmer's market and people gave me heirloom tomato seeds for free.
  • Believe it or not, just buy some veggies, and eat them. I used to hear all the time that you can't grow stuff from vegetables you've bought in the store, because they've been refrigerated or sprayed or what-have-you. I bought a package of 'heirloom' cherry tomatoes, and when a few went bad, I set them aside and removed the seeds. I planted them and they were one of my most successful crops last year. I even started two grapefruit trees this way.
What seeds to purchase:
  • As someone with M.E., you might order one plant that you know is going to be a fussy little problem, just to see if you can do it, but you should consider sticking to local plants that already like it where you live. Then they won't need special care, and chances are you can leave them alone for a few days if you get very ill and they won't behave like a Victorian maiden in need of a fainting couch.
  • I stuck primarily to herbs and vegetables I knew would be useful. I owned one rose plant, but that was because someone purchased it for me as a gift. I wanted what I was doing to be very motivating. My motivation was to have frozen veggies and herbs from my garden to use in cooking for the rest of the year.

There are some herbs and vegetables where it pays to re-sow. Carrots and lettuces in particular will grow throughout the year if you wait and toss some new seeds -- in the case of the lettuces, right where you were growing the earlier plants.

Where to purchase seeds:

I'm not affiliated with any of these people. Please recommend local places for seeds in the comments section. I'm in the middle / eastern part of the U.S., and if you live in California or Wisconsin (or Australia, or Ireland) you might want different recommendations for 'local' plants and plant-sellers.

  • Mountain Rose -- Mountain Rose Herbs in Oregon has a lot of unusual and cool seeds because they sell for herbal medicine. If there's an herbal supplement that's very important to your regime, why not grow some? Again, make sure the plant is hardy within your zone before you purchase. I linked you directly to the seeds page in this case, because MR is a little hard to navigate.
  • Seedsavers is an amazing organization where you can go to share heirloom seeds with the community, or purchase them. THEY ARE VERY COOL, GUYS.
  • Companion Plants is a greenhouse/farm/business in Ohio, but they will ship wherever. They have one of the most incredible greenhouses and seed repositories that I have ever seen. If you are well enough for a trip, and local enough, do consider visiting.
More next time! This is a work in progress, so expect to see some changes if you come back... :D


<---Previous in the Series


What a lovely idea for a post! The pic from the Secret Garden brings back such nice memories of reading it and seeing the tv series when I was a child.. I guess many of us could identify with Colin now...

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