Thursday October 23, 2014

QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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Gaia consciousness

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If Princess' skin is torn, a scab quickly forms and heals over.

Every scrape requires a bandage until she learns skin will make its own without help, and heal faster if left alone.

In the garden, weeds spring up quickly where soil is ploughed. It would seem Earth hates nakedness and self-designs to grow it over. Where left alone, first weeds are succeeded by longer lasting perennials, shrubs, and then trees. Thousands of interlocking systems, left alone, will heal into a diverse grassland or forest.

On some level, we've always known this. Plants grow, yielding their bodies or leaves to freeze rot into every winter, and supply next year's growth with nutrients. Earth is covered. She won't be naked, remember? And she needs those dead bodies right where they landed to shield the tender roots of perennial plants from dry, desiccating elements.

I once believed that if I could just design the perfect irrigation system, I'd have gardening figured. Now, reading Toby Hemenway's book Gaia's Garden – A Guide to Home-Scale Permacuture, I'm shifting from this view.

If I can set up plant systems that mimic a young forest – fostering both perennial plants and annuals in symbiotic relationships, employing Nature's soil building and water saving techniques – growing food could get a hell of a lot easier.

Imagine a self-sustaining ecosystem, one we could walk away from and still return to abundance.

For too many years, I've been a slave to the garden because in too many ways, I have been fighting Nature's way. The possibility of being an equal partner instead of carving her into submission is pretty seductive. Nature probably feels the same way.

Lately the term biodiversity balloons in my consciousness. Increasing the kinds of plants in a garden multiplies the diversity of insects and lessens the likelihood of pests. More ground cover fosters more diverse (and barely visible) soil creatures feeding all plants in the area.

Closely planted vegetation bolsters a garden's drought tolerance. Leaf litter and other decomposing plant matter also act as a sponge to hold water for longer periods of time. Plough this symphony and its musical instruments are destroyed.

I marvel at the technology Nature employs: overlapping fail safe systems to guard her against any sudden changes.

While we poison ourselves out of existence, Nature will heal herself. There's hope she might even teach us how to live from the farm.


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