By JOSE GERMAN
For Montclair Local
Jose German is a New Jersey environmental activist, Essex County certified master gardener and Montclair resident. He is the founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition (neearth.org), a nonprofit environmental organization.
Holistic gardening is not a lifestyle or an environmental movement. In my view, it is a practical approach to pursue a way of gardening that benefits the mind and the spirit as much as the body, and the garden itself. Holistic gardening is my gardening philosophy, summarized in the title of this column: Gardening for life.
Holistic gardening is a way of connecting the mind, body and spirit to the environment. We grow food to feed and nurture our body, and we plant flowers to create a beautiful and relaxing visual environment around our homes. We plant herbs with medicinal and healing purposes. The physical work we do in the garden provides us exercise to invigorate our bodies. Contemplating the garden gives us a bridge to reflect and meditate, which also facilitates stress reduction and makes our healing processes easier.
CREATING THE HOLISTIC GARDEN
A plan to develop a multi-sensory garden should include:
• A relaxing view from your home
• Plants with interesting fragrances
• Diverse textures to be touched and flavors to taste.
Make your garden a place that goes beyond the landscape design. You can create a sanctuary for wildlife and an oasis for yourself to connect with Mother Nature a few steps from your living room.
The gardener’s goal is to fulfill personal needs to create a well-thought-out space, filled with purpose, a meaningful space in which to enrich daily life experience.
Gardening is a never-ending project. Gardeners take seasonal breaks to rethink what has been accomplished already and to plan ahead for the new season.
The purpose of holistic gardening goes beyond organic gardening.
Think about the interaction of all the elements of a garden and their functions: the soil with millions of microorganisms, the role of some plants in protecting others (companion plants), the nutritive value of the veggies we grow, the healing quality of herbs we plant and the interaction of pollinators and beneficial wildlife.
It is an open classroom to learn about nature while observing the interaction of humans, animals and pollinators. It is like a micro universe with gardener in the center. It means working with nature to create a place where human, wildlife and nature coexist in perfect balance.