He who plants a garden today, has hope for tomorrow.
In today’s fast-paced, paved-over world, it is easy to feel a little overwhelmed, and maybe even a bit disconnected. Sometimes, it is an uphill battle to remain grounded and positive.
The question begs to be asked, “What can I do to keep hope alive?”
Well, one such creative solution is…
Plant a garden!
Cultivating a garden will literally help you to connect with the earth, and with your self. Getting your hands dirty is often very cathartic, and soothing for the soul. Planting seeds of hope, watching them take root, and flourish into new life provides a metaphor, and practice, for how we can apply our attention and our consciousness in order to save the world. The fruits of your labor nourish your body, mind, and spirit.
In beginning our project, it is important to make the most conscientious decisions available to us, so that we do indeed make the world a better place, and leave her in better shape than when we began.
Our first decision lies in where to plant?
Perhaps you have a nice little (or even big) plot of earth that is just yearning for some new life to be sown into it—fantastic! It really doesn’t take much, just pick a spot that gets a daily dose of sunshine, and a visit from you.
Or your answer might be, “I live in a concrete jungle with no access to soil.” No worries. Perhaps you could make a planter box, and put it on the patio, or roof, or hang it out a window—get creative! Those of you that opt for the planter box route, consider the option of choosing one made out of reclaimed wood or even recycled plastic, both are extremely durable and leave Mama Earth happier than when you found her.
Our second decision is how to amend the soil?
Our most conscious choice here would be to use only organic ingredients to build the juiciest and most fertile soil possible. I once asked an old farmer near Walla Walla, WA how he produced the sweetest, most bomb-diggity strawberries I had ever come across in my life. He looked at me, sizing me up, and said, “Well, they take a whole lotta steer shit from me and a healthy sprinkling of sugar from my wife.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the recognition that there is a whole lotta bullsh*t out there in the world; what a good way to reinvest and turn it into something sweet.
The truth of the matter is that good quality poopoo will prime your garden for success, and teach you how to be a catalyst for positivity! If you are digging directly into the ground, I suggest burrowing down 1–2 feet into the bed of your garden and churning the soil. You may choose to add some nutritive supplement to your dirt if it looks healthy, or replace it with a carefully concocted blend of organic soil and fertilizer. I personally like a little more BS than some, but a good rule of (green) thumb is about a 2:1 ratio of dirt to fert. If you are gardening in a planter, you have a fresh canvas! Dig in! The more of yourself you pour into your soil, the more it will produce for you. (One of my lil’ secrets: I do in fact like to add a bit of organic cane sugar to the mix to sweeten up the fruits and veggies. Not sure if this exactly what the ol’ farmer meant, but it works!)
If you must use soil that comes packaged in plastic, again try to find one that uses recycled. And please recycle it.
Those of you carrying a bag of steer shit on the subway in NYC, please send pictures!
The third conundrum is what to plant?
In the greenest of worlds, everything would be grown directly from seed, but perhaps you live in a climate that doesn’t have a long growing season, or you got started late, or the new buds continually get picked off by the local pests. You can plant things that were started in a greenhouse. Different plants thrive in different climate zones. Take a minute to get acquainted with the kinds of plants that will do well in your garden. Most importantly, plant something you love. Do your best to find a local, organic source to minimize footprint in shipping and pesticide runoff, and perhaps you can find plants housed in peat pots rather than plastic. Again, if plastic is your only choice, maybe you can return the pots to the nursery where you got them so they can reuse.
And finally, how to irrigate?
One way that is super easy is to take out the hose for a few minutes and play rainmaker. The truth is, we most certainly need to be aware of our water consumption, so as you become more invested in your garden, you may start to recognize water as a very valuable resource. Perhaps you’ll take a shorter shower in recognition that some of that water could be going to your carrots. Maybe you’ll wash your dishes in a big tub, rinsing sparingly because the spinach could use a little extra today. Or maybe even you start to use biodegradable and super earth-friendly products near the sink so that you can reclaim the water and use it to irrigate the sunflowers.
If you are beginning to notice a trend, perhaps you’ll recognize that the more conscious you are about the decisions used to cultivate your garden, the more your garden will nourish your soul.
Once your garden is in the ground and producing, you’ll quickly realize that the true joy of gardening lives in the daily maintenance; in taking a few brief moments each day to acknowledge the miracle of life and the power of creativity you hold in your hands.
If you have any other planting tips and/or tricks, please let me know in the comments section below. I would love to hear your thoughts.
Brock Cahill and his wife Krista Cahill are both yoga teachers in Los Angeles, California. For more information please have a look at www.kurmalliance.org and www.gravitycowboy.com.
*Photo by tejvanphotos.