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.
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 says. “Applying pesticides is not gardening in my book, at least not the slow kind.”
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,” Rushing 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.”
Here are some ideas from “Slow Gardening, A No-Stress Philosophy for All Senses and Seasons” by Felder Rushing.