Kiss the Garden
By Sherry & Terry on July 5, 2009 at 7:45 PMThis year's veggie garden has been absolutely glorious. The mostly sunny and hot days have created ideal growing conditions for almost every variety of vegetable that we have planted. It feels like we are a month ahead of schedule from past years.
We are often asked what is our secret when friends and family set their eyes on our organic garden. We usually tell them we heavily mulch to keep the weeds down, do some watering and say the weather has been great. But that's not altogether the truth.
Like many seasoned gardeners, we started our earliest years of gardening by using conventional methods such as rototilling, a lot of watering and backbreaking weeding. As life got busier, we began looking for easier ways to make less work for ourselves. Learning about Ruth Stout's mulching method was a huge boon.
Almost like clockwork, every spring the little green inchworms would ravage the cherry tree leaves or later in the summer months, the starlings would feast on our juicy, plump blueberries. This enraged us. How dare they take our food, our treasures and munch their little hearts out! Up in the tree went the silver reflectors from my fisherman dad's trolling equipment. Surely this would frighten and distract those nasty, aggressive birds. Throw some seine boat netting over the blueberry bushes to save our precious bounty!
For a short time these deterrents helped, but sooner than later the insects and the birds would adapt and continue to feast to their heart's content. It was a sobering moment to see a bird strangling itself in the netting, but still I would find myself feeling frustrated and helpless for many a growing season.
Then one year, we decided to give it up. Give up thinking about how to prevent our foragers from getting what they wanted, give up putting too much energy into thinking about what we were losing or how much they were taking. It was hard, like weaning one's self from a bad addiction.
We noticed that even though a massive number of leaves on the cherry tree would be eaten by the inchworms each spring, once they were done, a new set of leaves would burst forth, leaving little sign of the tree's previous baldness. It seemed that the less attention we paid to the plants' visitors, the sooner they made their exit. Out of my mouth spouted new wisdoms. I began to see the bigger picture...that if we continued cutting down the life of these inchworms before they were able to complete whatever they were meant to do, they would just keep coming back.
Today we have no major problem with inchworms nor starlings. We have matured as gardeners who have come to appreciate that we don't know everything about how nature works, what the big picture is for us or the insects or wildlife that inhabit our garden. Some years, some plants grow better than others. We get aphids and watch the ladybugs do their work. We don't try to fix it or figure it out. We just go with the flow, share what we have and for reasons we cannot explain, we continually get a huge bounty of fresh, luscious abundance.
Okay, call us flakes, but we admit we love our plants. We are in awe of them! Just like the wonder we feel when the airplane we board miraculously gets off the ground, we feel that same excitement about the seeds that we sow. I whisper hello to them in the morning and goodnight to them in the evening. When I say that my plants are happy, one look at their size can prove that they really are.
The mantra we live by is the wisdom of Chief Seattle when he said, " Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."
So may we prescribe and recommend that kissing your garden is truly most helpful.
K-eep I-t S-imple, S-illy!