Sowing: Preparing the Ground

In the 50+ years of my life, I have engaged in preparing soil for the sowing of seeds.  That preparation has included:  burning, turning, enriching and building.

Burning: Like many farmers for centuries, my grandfather often burned the field we planted our garden in.  He did that burning in February (named from the Latin word “feber” which means purging, cleansing, and from which we get the word fever).  The burning of the field cleared away old plant matter from the field, and it created a carbon supplement for the soil.

Turning: There was always the early spring turning.  My grandfather hired a man with a mule and a plow to do it because “the mule and the man can turn it deeper.”

Enriching: For many years now, we have had a compost pile. Time and temperature, water and weight in turn transform the eggshells, coffee grounds, snips and snaps of various vegetables and grass clippings into dark, rich compost with which we enrich our flower and vegetable beds.

Building: At times, we have lived in places where the soil was rocky or pure clay.  We have learned to build raised beds in a variety of ways which allow us to create good, arable soil for the plants we want to grow, and slowly the soil beneath it becomes richer, too.  It’s a double good-good for growing and over time, good for the location.

Beware the shortcuts: I have been tempted by the shortcuts of gardening advertising. These shortcuts are called chemical fertilizer, Round Up (herbicides), and toxic insecticides. We have learned, over time, that there are natural and organic solutions for all of these issues, and that gardening shortcuts usually never deliver what they promise.

Gardening is one of my favorite metaphors for  living life.  What are you burning off that clears the way and nourishes your future?  What sort of turning upside down do you experience that actually gives you new sight? Got waste?  Have you ever thought of the refuse of your life as the stuff that nourishes your next best experience?   Got a bad situation?  How can you build on top of it for multiple goods?  You already know what a lot of shortcuts do for you–especially those that pretend to give you short term what only the long term can deliver.  Some things are simply worth spending the time.

It’s spring.  Time to prepare the ground of our lives.

Bob Patrick

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