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Cultivating Life

Choose a three by six plot in your yard that gets sun, choose a spade and lift off the sod, shaking free as much of the soil as you can. Remove larger stones and pile them somewhere nearby so they will remind you to remain steadfast. Add organic compost and fertilizer and mix the soil well. Select heirloom seeds that will yield things you delight in seeing on your plate, and plant them, keeping in mind how much room they’ll need when they are grown. Water deeply, imagining that the tiny roots have mouths. Get excited.

Weed every few days so your vegetables don’t have to compete for sun and nutrients. Rejoice at the emerging seedlings and again at their first set of leaves. Take necessary steps to keep them safe; stake them, pick off the bugs, place a circle of pot ash around them to stop the slugs from devastating. Stay vigilant; find out what they need and provide it, witnessing how well this works. Continually praise them while tending as the flowers drop and the vegetables appear and grow and ripen, and notice you are in relationship here.

Practice patience as the days grow shorter and temperatures cool. At twilight on a day of ripeness, grab your garden clippers and a basket and fill your heart with gratitude. Select the largest and most mature on the stalks and vines and before taking its’ life, thank each one for its sacrifice so that you may be nourished. Fill your basket, or if there is not enough to fill your basket, be thankful for whatever the earth yielded in your favor. Cook them to perfection and share your bounty with friends or family, savoring every bite.

Pull the remains of the empty vines and stalks out by their roots, drop them in the compost pile for next year, and be sure to shake loose any seeds that may be clinging so they drop to the soil for possible future volunteers. Rake fallen leaves into a pile, run the mower over them to make mulch, and blanket the plot, putting your garden bed to bed. Know that after fallow and gestation comes the sprouting again, tuck this away in your heart for safe keeping, watch as winter makes stillness, and recognize this whole exercise was not about gardening.

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