How does your garden grow?
‘Based on what you want to grow, you have to invest to get the best of what you cultivate’– Courtney Missick
Turks Island has always been self-sustaining in feeding its people; this has been proven since the eighteen hundreds and further into the 70’s and 80’s, when islands like North Caicos, Middle Caicos, and Providenciales were yielding staple food items for the tables of families who managed and harvested, from their own plots of land they called fields. This system has since been a thing of the past with the emergence of development, jobs, financial increase, and entrepreneurism; now, natives can afford foodstuffs they do not have to grow.
This practice of cultivating fields has dwindled away, not only because of development but also because of the hard labor that went into slashing and burning, sowing, harvesting, and the preparation (shucking, grinding, and sifting) of the food. It became much more accessible for women, especially now that necessities became affordable.
Women could go to the shop and take off the shelf a bag of grits, corn meal, tea bags, frozen corn on the cob, tomatoes, peas in the can, onions, pumpkins, and sweet potatoes, then go home to cook in minutes. With the ease of buying and cooking instant foods, we moved away from going into the field, plus tending our home gardens, to a sedentary lifestyle with everything at hand.
The result: obesity and chronic health problems increased, becoming a norm for islanders. Doctors, nutritionists, and health practitioners have encouraged eating healthy for the past decade. At present, our health demands that we go back to growing and cultivating our own staple foods. Drinking our fever grass teas and taking our natural home grown remedies with medicinal value, which our parents grew up drinking and passed on to us. (snake stick, noni, Maranga, rat root, cerasee, tamarind leaf, soursop leaf, five finger leaf etc.)
Especially since the pandemic, islanders have taken to tending their own gardens, whether as a hobby or seeking to growing vegetables to cut cost and for nutrition. In past issues I spoke about types of herbs that can be grown and their nutritional values and the medicinal value of different plants in the islands.
Here I offer tips on starting your home garden or field to grow your own herbs and vegetables:
Tip # 1: Once you get your garden set up, most of the hard work is over.
The key thing to setting up you home garden: don’t be afraid to ask for help when starting, as in how, what, and doing it right. Based on what you want to grow, you have to invest to get the best of what you cultivate.
Tip # 2: Choose a suitable location in your yard that is not too shady. Plants do not do well under shade. They need direct sunlight.
Choices: you could grow in a pot or directly in the ground
Tip #3 :Preparing the soil for sowing
Buy fertilizers if you have to or prepare your own natural fertilizers. In addition, it is great to have the right gardening tools.
Tip #4: What are you going to grow?
Vegetables, herbs, staple foods: make a decision based on the goals you want to achieve. Be it eating healthy or to sell. Remember it is better to grow vegetables , herbs, and staple foods that you use on a daily basis to cut food cost.
Tip #5: Taking care of your garden while your plants are growing.
Watering, clearing, tending, harvesting. The plus to all the work is, you get in great exercise, and you feel accomplished, eating your own produce you have grown.
Lastly, growing your own backyard vegetables, herbs, and staples, is very beneficial. It’s all about trial, error, and learning.
Here’s to great health!
*As seen in Issue 6 on the DIY Gardening: With Courtney Missick