Contributor: Ruben Tapia
Photographer: Madison Cline
When reflecting on our relationship with nature, it is fundamental that we aspire for a cooperative association that works to improve our lives, even if it is only in the smallest of ways. One simply needs to ask themselves these questions: “Am I actively incorporating botanical life into my home and meals?” and “What are my motivations for integrating more herbs and culinary plants into my life?”
Are you a foodie and want to pick fresh herbs and vegetables from your garden?
Are you looking to live off the grid and grow a majority of your food needs in-house?
Are you an entertainer who wants to have a more aromatic and sensory experience in the garden?
Whatever the case may be, there is no wrong answer; any inclusion of herbs into the diet and home will help contribute to a healthier and more productive environment. Luckily in southern and Baja California, we can grow a good deal of produce year round without many climate restrictions.
But how do we organize plants into our living spaces? One way is to think of your home likes rings of a tree. The center of health in the home is what’s closest to the kitchen, as the heart of food preparation and organization, and goes outward like rings to the furthest parts of your property. Here is an example of a way to organize plants like this within your property (with examples of the particular types that are good to begin with in each section), thinking from the center of the home on outwards.
Patio - Medicinal Herb Garden: Lavender, Rosemary, Oregano, Sage, and Thyme
Backyard/Greenhouse/Etc. - Fruit & Vegetable Garden: Tomatoes, Lettuces (Kale, Spinach, etc.), Onions, and Potatoes
It is always important to think in context of your needs, so work to create an ambiance that can enhance this relationship with nature and serve your lifestyle. If that means starting small with a plant here or an herb there, that is definitely fine!
For individuals and families living in urban areas, it is generally more efficient to begin with small space gardens, like the kitchen garden and maybe a balcony or patio garden. Rooftop gardens and vertical gardens can often be a good fit and potting/container gardening is going to be key for space efficiency and cleanliness. Irrespective of the location, understanding your relationship with flora will help you make decisions about living a more open life with nature.