“Definition: Sustainable Garden:
When the power and water is shut off, it should not die”. – Steve Martino
Here’s a little of our story wrapped up in three permaculture principles:
Boyfriend asked me a few years ago to be his forever girlfriend. I gladly accepted the challenge. No rings were exchanged, no big fancy ceremony took place it was just us laying in the dark of a studio apartment above an auto mechanics shop that he was renting. At the time, life was a little chaotic to say the least. Life was still moving on even though in the dark hours of quiet was the only time the two of us could find some peace.
Small and Slow Solutions:
Both of us were working multiple jobs that we hated. Both of us were stressed beyond our limits or so we thought. Both of us clinging to each other as if we were the only thing keeping us afloat. Things were still moving. Days were still passing and months passed by at what seemed a snails pace. In the hurried parts of life we jammed in so much activity that we forgot to slow down and take a breather. Dinners consisted of what we could shovel in our mouths, no room in the tiny kitchen for anything but quick and small meals that could really do our bodies justice. The whole thing was about to crumble. Life could not keep going at the pace that we had set. We needed to slow everything way down. Slow and steady will win the race, right!?
When the boyfriend got his house back after a long nasty, ugly divorce we vowed that life woud be different. This was our drama free zone. The place where we could focus on the life that we wanted to grow into, the life that we were meant to have. So we have been doing just that. We have kept the place drama free, sorta. He does have three 20 year old boys that have so much going on that the fire pit generally becomes a bitch session. Literally.
Not a year after we moved in Sailor and I dig up the side yard for the garden. Sickness had brought me to my knees and was forced to create a garden that would help keep us out of the fast food isles of the grocery store. We needed to concentrate on the produce section or better yet the garden center. Eating food that is grown slow is the best way to get the nutrients that the body really needs so the grass was yanked and the food starts went in.
Observe and Interact:
The side of the house was the perfect spot. There really wasn’t the space anywhere else in the tiny cubical that we have for outdoor space and there had been a make shift garden there in the past. The spring and summer sun make the perfect arch right over the yard leaving us with heated siding that bounces right down into the garden boxes. The closer you are to the house the more the heat rises! We figured this out really quickly the first year of the garden space simply because that corn right up against the house grew to full height and just three rows over (not even 15 feet away) the corn only grew 2 maybe 3 feet and that’s pushing it.
Our ultimate vision for the garden has evolved. Most gardeners do this same process if they are continuing to grow within themselves also. We started out with growing our own food to get out of the grocery store and to keep our bodies healthy with slower more nutrient rich foods. BUT what we have found over the last couple years is a major shift towards others and our little community of houses. Must be my thinking process trying to catch up with the giving heart of the boyfriend. What has made me realize my own change was the cold hard facts that I am notorious for over planting. Our little boxes really don’t need 24 plants of kale for a family of two.
You see I have a problem, I am addicted to stuffing pots at our clients houses to make them huge and beautiful with flowers, shrubs and vines, so that translates at home to an over bearing, busting at the seems garden boxes that produce way more food than either of us can eat. So we do our best by canning, drying and so on but really its just too much. I must learn to share. I don’t share well. Honestly. I know, I know go ahead and heap the shame all over me. I’m learning.
One of the best solutions to sharing has been our garden parties. Friends will come over and spend an evening under the night sky dancin’, talkin’, and feastin’ on things that have been grown in the garden. Boyfriend has really helped in the givin’ department. Last years crop of spaghetti squash was the tippin’ point for him and having an over abundance of squash. He was handing out the squash by the arm loads.
Obtain a Yield:
Obtaining a yield from our garden is not a problem. We gather food like crazy, boyfriend hands it out just as fast as I can grow it.
See, I’m learning to share.
My favorite part of obtaining a yield looks a little different. Being the constant reader, the constant learner and the constant teacher, obtaining a yield serves in so many ways. Putting food and plants aside for a minute let’s talk about measuring success in a garden space that really is less then 350 square feet. Yes, we have all learned or read that you can feed an army in a small space, their are plenty of experts out their that can show you how to do that. Flippin’ that concept around and rearranging it is what I like to do best. People. The hearts and brains of the people is what I like best. You can feed a belly for a life time off the concepts and tips and tricks that a gardener can teach you but you can also gain a yield within your own heart if you listen to what the garden has to say. It is that whole yin and yang thang. You give, the garden gives back. You listen quietly the garden will tell you what it needs, but if you listen really quietly, intently, you will also hear the garden tell you what you really need. The soul needs. The heart needs. The body needs. Those are the needs that need to obtain a yield. Those are the sources of all life.
I love the fact that in each cell of a plant there is a light that shines in it. It is an unexplainable light to some but to others is the life givin’ light that we all yearn for, our bodies have the same light with in each cell and when we eat plants that have that light in their cells it creates a brighter light within our own cells. You could say that we could grow each cell so much in light that we start to glow from the inside out! Well, maybe. I aim to find out.
The long term investment of the garden and the ups and downs of our lives continue a cycle that lasts all our days. We want to achieve a life that suits us, we want a life that looks and feels like perfection for us. So how do we go about doing that? We invest our time and our energy in to growing. We search out new techniques that produce the food supply that we can put up for the winter. We search out the latest and greatest pressure cookers that will help us store all those lovely tomatoes that we suffered the long summer for. We will invest in just about anything to make life just a little easier and to make our chores just a little bit quicker. We will walk every isle of the garden center pondering the latest gadgets and spend our dollars on just the right set of hand pruners so that the heavy burden of snippin’ water shoots from the apple trees goes just a little bit smoother. Yet some of us end our investments there.
Listening takes gardening and our lives to a whole other level. Takes our minds to a deeper understanding of what our soil in our gardens need and it amends the soil of our personal growth too.
There are days where I find myself sitting along the concrete path that boarders our garden just staring into the boxes. I see the weeds. I see the plants. I see the bees flying around. I understand why the weeds are there. Two reasons really. They sprouted up simply because the soil is bare and secondly because I’m too lazy to reach in and pull them out. I understand the biology of seeds and soil and sunlight and the cause and effect action that takes place when all three things are in motion. I understand the growing concept of plants. I understand that bugs need to eat. I understand the reason why they choose the plants they choose to nibble on or the bugs that they chase off. I understand the motions of the garden. I get all that.
What takes me deeper in the garden is that intent listening that I was talking about. That intent listening takes you from merely hearing with your ears to the deeper knowing that you get from the heart. This is the long term investment that I am looking for.
What is my heart needing and how can I gain a yield by listening to what my garden is saying? There is a whole science dedicated to the energy that each plant gives off. Each species of green growy things sends out vibes to the universe that is so completely different that if you listen hard enough you will hear a symphony playing just above the soil line. Ok. you are probably thinking I have gone off the deep end and started eating the wrong mushrooms to see a beautiful opera playing out over the titty pink boxes. I honestly can say NO, and I don’t think there are any mushrooms out there that could create a trip that is as stunning as what the plants are playing. Have I actually heard this symphony? No, but I listen for it.
Yes, each “weed” does its little quick, job of filling in the soil surface but taking it deeper what is each one of those weeds doing to the ground? Is it supplying the soil with nutrients for the long haul of creating a healthier soil?
Knowing what each weed is doing takes that whole gardening and listening thing to a whole new level. We can see that they are plants that are growing in the wrong place but to them and nature they are doing their measly part to make the whole better. They are bringing to the preverbial table their small wonder that the world needs. They have a gift to offer and they stop at nothing to get their gift to the world. Now can you say that? What are you investing your time in? Are you listening intently to what your garden is saying or how about this, are you listening intently to what your heart is needing?