In so many ways, humanity is being asked to grow up right now: take those heads out of the sand, look around, and decide what you’d love to see in your world. Then plant it, water it, nourish it, and watch that reality grow as you do. I see so many parallels in my private sessions and classes with people, and in the microcosm of my side and backyard gardens. One parallel I’d love to address today is the concept of limitation — looking around at your life, your yard, your “circumstances,” your world … and giving up before you start. Common excuses include:
“I don’t have enough space/time/light to get started.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing.”
“What if I fail?”
“It’s too much work.”
“I’d love to have more sovereignty over my life/food/career/mind, but what can you do? It is what it is.”
To which I say, “Grow up.” In the nicest possible ways, each and every one of us needs to step into our own natural creativity, sovereignty, community and wisdom. If we don’t see the space (whether literal or figurative), we do have the power and the choice to clear things away, to grow in unusual and unexpected directions, and flourish under any and all supposed restrictions. Today I’m posting a couple videos from others and some photos from my own very small space, vertically efficient garden. Please take whatever inspiration you can glean on whatever level, whether related to gardening of the soil or soul.
In this first video, we see an urban garden with loads of cabbage and chard serving as edible front yard ornamentals. Many people let city regulations stop them from using sunny front lawns to grow food. With the right selections, you can create beauty and food. The book “The Edible Front Yard” offers lots of guidelines, from simple to extravagantly gorgeous. The Healthy Irishman in this video interviews his neighbor about her growing strategies, and at the end you can hear how her choices impact her neighborhood of cooks.
This next video shows John Kohler’s front yard garden. When I lived in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, CA, I knew John. I have to say, his garden has grown. LOL!! Majorly. John’s a hardcore gardener and avid raw foodist. He’s also very frugal and shares many tips in this video about how to save money while building raised beds. He also covers drip irrigation to water at the roots of the plant, allowing him to maintain a busy travel schedule while saving water, too. He also covers spacing for maximum harvests. John uses rock dust as a fertilizer, and I have to say his produce was some of the sweetest, tastiest stuff I’ve ever tasted. Even if you’re not intending anything as major as John’s front yard farm, you can learn a lot from his vast gardening knowledge:
The following images are from our own side garden, which is extremely narrow and runs along the chain link fence between us and our neighbor.
Cucumbers growing up the fence behind our side steps
Cucumbers growing up the fence, behind our recycling and garbage cans
Topsy Turvy Tomatoes, morning glory and cucumber vines
I had been fighting the morning glories, trying to maintain space for our cucumbers, until the faeries just about went on strike. “Stop pulling out the morning glories!” I tried to explain that I had so little growing space that I wanted to save room for “edibles” or “plants I can use.” Well, those faeries sure showed me. I’ve been having trouble sleeping with all the solar flares, so I felt led to buy some Tulsi Sleep tea at Whole Foods. I didn’t look at the ingredients until I got home. Among them is “Dwarf Morning Glory (whole plant).” The next day, David surprised me with some flower faery books from the library. I opened to the Morning Glory, which “keeps away evil faeries at night.” OK, message received! The cukes and Morning Glory have made their peace, and I’ve let other — even non-edible –wildflowers grow amongst the edibles. Why? Because the faeries like them. Truth be told, so do I, and that side garden is a haven for bees, too.
Garden July 26, 2012
Believe it or not, we had a massive hail and rain storm last night, so this lush garden above was just been heavily pruned by me before photographing it. I harvested greens for a huge green smoothie this morning, plus enough greens for a large salad for lunch. I also cut some renegade tomatillo “limbs” that had become light hogs over the rest of the plants. I also used more string as support to lift the tomatillo and tomato plant offshoots off the ground. I learned last year that tomato leaves on the ground are an invitation for blight, a fungal disease that your plants really don’t want! Lifting them encourages healthier growth.
I initially worried about how much our garden has inserted itself beyond the fence. Nature uses fences as support rather than aggressive dividers — something we might do well to remember for ourselves! But I don’t like when people encroach on other people’s space/energy without asking, so I had been feeling a bit hypocritical blasting over and through the fence into our neighbor’s yard. Anyway, last week, I ran into our very busy neighbor, Lisa, and I apologized for the crazy growth into her yard. She smiled and laughed, then asked what I was growing. I then asked permission to harvest from her side of the fence if I couldn’t reach fruits from our side. I didn’t want to presume I could just enter her yard unannounced, and she’s rarely home, so I didn’t want to wait until I might happen to see her if I needed to harvest something. To my surprise, she was thrilled that I was growing food so close to her home. She mentioned her own not-so-green thumb and thought she might have just “manifested a gardening neighbor instead.” I offered her some of our harvest, and she thanked me for that. She would have let us harvest anyway, but it was a nice touch.
Two days later, I saw her carrying potted plants into her garage. I yelled over, “Wow! Did you decide to grow things after all?” She explained that she had been so inspired by my garden and comments about how grounded I feel tending plants that she went out and bought some potted herbs for herself. She didn’t know how to grow herbs anymore than she had known how to grow tomatoes when they failed a few years earlier. I, on the other hand, grow herbs year round, indoors and out. She walked over to our side of the fence to see our basil, sage, parsley, oregano and other herbs and to get some tips for indoor potting soil and growing. I don’t know why, but it made me so happy that Lisa, our non-growing neighbor, suddenly felt the urge to bring some plants into her home. I’m sure the basil and other herbs will love her southern window sills.
All of which is to say … that so many of our limitations really do exist only in our imaginations. If we can express our desires, share our visions and ask for permission before trouncing on anyone else’s space, sometimes those discussions lead to surprising and wonderful places. Because of my garden, I now know that my busy neighbor isn’t just a schoolteacher, but also a passionate artist whose private business is flourishing. She now knows I stick my hands in the dirt to ground myself from all the intuitive work I do. She knows I talk to faeries and give them bling in exchange for them helping tend my trickier plants. I know she’s looking forward to fresh produce “magically” appearing on her doorstep. She now knows that herbs are the easiest things to grow — almost like weeds. The biggest problem she’d likely have would be from over-watering or over-care. That drew a big smile from Lisa!
A couple weeks ago, I had asked the Universe to help me get to know my neighbors better than just a wave. In this past week, all connected to gardening, I’ve gotten to know an intriguing but busy neighbor on one side, called a rain storm in with a neighbor on the other side, discovered our across-the-street neighbors have the equivalent of a small farm tucked away in their backyard, and met several other neighborhood friends of friends. In perfect balance, our neighbors on the other side, have a prolific vine growing onto our side of the fence. I prune it back over my shady backyard garden, but in other parts I let it grow large and free. I’ve posted about hummingbirds twice recently, and this is where I see them. As I type, I can look out at the orange flowers and my friendly neighborhood hummingbirds. Life is good!