Connections help us to weave through the sometimes bumpy road of life and enrich our human experience. Growing your own vegetables, fruit and herbs allows you to enter a hot bed of connections which are fundamental to life on earth.
When a food gardener becomes conscious of these connections, a green thumb begins to appear and your effectiveness jumps significantly. You become much more effective at growing your own food in your own backyard, community garden, school or farm. Lets explore these connections, some from more conventional gardening methods and others which recognise the non-physical elements at play in the garden.
A primary connection your plants depend upon is the soil. Healthy soil with a strong life force will improve your seed strike rate and the capacity of your food plants to: resist diseases and pests, handle moisture variability and produce healthy crops with seeds worth replanting. For most gardeners, soil is only looked at when the bugs and pests appear or when the crop yield is lower than expected. Think of caring for the soil as you would ideally seek to maintain your own health, with consistent practices bringing balance into your life to ward off the next health or emotional crisis.
Plants impact each other through unseen connections. It s very important to consider the plant family that comes before the one you are planting, as well the plants sharing the space with your food crop. Some love to be companions and thrive in their growth, while other plants are not compatible at all and some get on with any plant. By working with these connections between plants in managing your garden, you are using natures gifts in a very conscious way.
Other plants have the capacity to increase the sensitivity and health of the soil around your food plant by drawing in life forces and nutrients from an area quite distant from your garden bed. Stinging nettle and dandelion are two such plants. Some people have a similar impact when they come into an organisation.
Animals have just as much right to live in your domain as you do. In attempting to grow food, the challenge is to recognise how they can help your food garden. This is quite a radical way of looking at what most people call “pests”. Bees are helpful in any garden and these can be attracted by flowers. Some flowers attract insects which eat other insects that may be very partial to your crop of cabbages. Birds are happy to eat some creatures that will love other plants in your garden. Occasionally those birds may eat some of your crop, but perhaps that s a fair trade for letting them do their daily work of cleaning up the garden. We have a wonderful family of happy jack birds around our food garden and they act as its guardians in protecting our garden from other large birds.
The planets have a very big impact on the success of your gardening. Their forces are always streaming down onto the earth. The moon is the most obvious planet with a connection to plant growth and moisture. Reproductive forces are enhanced around the full moon. Other planets in our solar system, as well as the constellations, all impact plant growth and the success of cultivating and harvesting. You could ignore these forces and still grow food, but they are another gift to help us be more productive gardeners. Conventional agriculture and even most organic gardening practices ignore these forces. Biodynamic gardening has a strong focus on connecting with these cosmic forces in a conscious way with food growing.
The human connection to the garden comes before everything. Without your love and attention, there is no food garden. This connection can very easily extend to other people and to me this is a hidden treasure of food gardening.
I want to share some of my own experience here. I helped commence a Biodynamic gardening group in my local area about seven years ago. We met at each others places each fortnight to work on vegie patches and orchards and enjoy each other's company. This went on for three years. I felt very enriched by this community building experience and this led me to the business venture I have now and the community development work I do in urban agriculture. I had expanded my community connections and recognised from first hand experience how satisfying it was to share my desire to grow healthy food with other people of like mind. To my great joy, my son, who was a teenager at the time of the gardening group, showed an interest in joining with the adults to garden. He has now completed three years of Biodynamic farming training in Europe and is ready to help transform our food system with his young and vibrant energy.
Peter Kearney - www.cityfoodgrowers.com