Slow gardening is more a lifestyle than a race
By Dean Fosdick
Published: Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, 8:20 p.m.
Felder Rushing is not a man to be hurried. This former county-extension-agent-turned-folklorist, author and lecturer is an advocate of slow gardening — emphasizing the process over the product.
“Life has a lot of pressures,” Rushing says. “Why include them in the garden?”
Slow gardening is an offshoot of the international Slow Food Movement, which, in its words, aims “to strengthen the connection between the food on our plates and the health of our planet.” Think of it as mixing ecology with gastronomy, promoting wellness over the high-calorie fare of many fast-food menus.
The way Rushing looks at it, fast-food gardening means outsourcing most gardening pleasures.
“A lot of people feel they're too busy to maintain their lawn and shrubs, so they hire ‘mow and blow crews' to get it done,” he says. “That's fine, but it's product-oriented. Others like eating out regularly. That's OK, too, but it's not home-cooking or enjoying what you grow.”
Slow-gardeners, on the other hand, look forward to whatever needs doing. “They're anticipating, performing and sharing the process,” he says.
Slow gardening is more psychological than horticultural. “Some people make their beds every morning even if they live alone and nobody's there to notice,” he says. “They do what they do because it makes them feel good.”
Yet, slow gardening is not lazy gardening; there are no shortcuts or how-to lists.
“Sometimes, it can get pretty intense and long on gadgets,” Rushing says. “But if you're able to get into the rhythm of that, you're practicing slow gardening.”
Susan Harris, a garden coach and blogger (GardenerSusan, GardenRant) from Greenbelt, Md., also subscribes to the slow-gardening philosophy, and recommends it to her students, readers and clients.
It's “doing what I'm passionate about, not being a purist about anything, using hand tools, not power tools, tolerating some pest damage or just growing some other plant rather than bothering with products (organic or otherwise),” Harris said in an email. “Applying pesticides is not gardening in my book, at least not the slow kind.”
Some suggestions from Rushing's book “Slow Gardening, A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons” (Chelsea Green Publishing, 2011):
• Take it easy. Gardening doesn't have to be stressful or a rush to reach harvest. Go slow while you grow.
• Don't try keeping up with the Joneses. “A lot of gardeners are scared they're going to mess up,” Rushing says. “ ‘What are the neighbors going to say?' I'm saying hold your head up and go on. Make mistakes and savor them. People are going to talk about you anyway.”
• Don't be penny-wise and flavor-foolish. “Slow gardeners don't mind spending a little more trying to grow tomatoes over what they'd buy at the store, just for that first, hot-off-the-vine bite in the summer,” he says.
• Get together. Share your harvests. Teach. “If you like going to farmers markets, great. But take some kids along with you the next time and show them the difference between a yellow (summer) squash and a zucchini. To me, slow gardening is passing along a favorite plant or some of your knowledge.”
Dean Fosdick is a staff writer for the Associated Press.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Got proof on Tomlin? Let’s hear it
- Ex-Penguins winger Kennedy ‘emotional’ about return
- Film about former Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis in prestigious festival
- McKeesport council approves budget with no tax hike
- Ex-Steeler WR Wallace: It was a ‘challenge’ for Haley to use me
- Mon Yough Chamber’s ‘Lunch and Learn’ uncovers Carnegie ‘gem’
- McKeesport club has railroad display on track for holiday
- Salvation Army donations lag
- Port Vue council set to join host fee legal fight
- Sandy Hook 911 calls fuel sensitivity debate
- Steelers coach Tomlin fined $100K by NFL