Gardening as a Contract with Nature

I do not claim to be an excellent gardener. Never have. In fact, in the past, I was so unwilling to kill any Plant that I wouldn’t “weed” and my vegetable garden would soon consist of more weeds than vegetables. After losing my herb garden and restarting last year, I realized that I needed to make a change. So I did what I do and I asked the Plants for assistance. I talked about my realization of “de-planting” in the last newsletter, so I won’t go into detail here.

Since writing about it and as I prepare for garden days here, I have been trying to pay attention to how I work with the Plants.

First, I notice a huge difference in the Plants in my herb garden. I’ve been telling everyone that it is like they are on steroids. People nod and say yes this crazy weather, with the heat and abundance of rain, has been great for Plants. But that’s not it. If you look at the Plants in my herb garden and compare them to any other Plants, there is a difference. They are larger, stronger, and have many more blooms. You can (or at least I can) notice the difference in quality. I have a hypothesis which I’ll share later.

Why weed or de-plant? Well, as I said earlier, when I didn’t de-plant my gardens, the garden Plants struggled. I questioned myself, why are the Plants that I planted more important than the wild ones? They aren’t. However, when creating a garden, a human creates a contract with nature. The garden is under the human’s care. So it is my responsibility to provide the healthiest environment for the garden Plants. This is why I invite the wild Plants to grow in our field.

That being said, it is important to know (and this is contrary to what most gardeners will tell you) that the wild Plants are also important to the garden. These wild Plants do provide something. Perhaps they are using their tap roots to bring needed minerals. Perhaps they are providing protection (which is what Ragweed did for my garden last year). If you look at Nature, Plants do not like to grow alone with a lot of space between them (well, most Plants). And so our garden Plants, also need others nearby. Some gardeners do this with companion planting. I think this is helpful. I also think it is best if we can pay attention to the wild Plants (and the garden Plants) and see what is best for the garden.

This spring, Lamium purpureum or Purple Deadnettle came to my garden. I always admire this plant growing in the fields every spring. However, when I encountered ki growing (quite generously) in my herb garden, fear set in. I thought, I have to take care of this now or ki could take over my whole herb garden. (Most of the Plants were either still asleep or were just beginning to come out of the ground.) When I could step back, I realized that I like Lamium growing there, the purple and green were beautiful and Heart lifting. So I asked the garden and Lamium what I should do. The response was “Nothing,” I needed to let the Lamium continue to grow. So I did. As I sat with it and watched, the feeling that I got was that the Lamium was fixating energy into the garden similar to clover fixating nitrogen. She was raising the healing vibration of the garden. In time, her job was done and she told me to remove her, which I did. Now, my hypothesis, is that it is to Lamium purpureum that my garden (and I) owe the incredible growth, strength, and energy that is now present.

My point is that there is a time to de-plant and there is a time to let the Plants do their work. A good “gardener” accepts this and knows which time it is. To my knowledge, the only way to know when to do these is by paying attention to the Plants and letting them guide your work.

If you are interested in trying this, I encourage you to spend quiet time in your garden. Focus on sharing the space with all the Plants. Allow your breathing to unite with the Plants’ breathing. When you are ready, ask which Plant or Plants need to be removed. Open your eyes and see if any catch your attention. I try to focus on removing one or two Plants at a time. For instance, I am working with Ragweed right now. So I am removing all the Ragweed and only Ragweed . Then, next time I might work with Morning Glory and only remove Morning Glory. If one catches your attention, then go to that Plant (its okay if you don’t know what ki is, I encourage you to learn. Tell the Plant that this garden is for the Plants that you plant and invite. Thank her for her help in the garden and invite her to grow somewhere else (for me, we have a huge field where I invite them to grow). Ask her if there is anything that you need to do for her or the garden. Every time you pull a Plant, thank the Plant. If you can, eat or make medicine with the Plants you are “harvesting”. If not, then compost them and return them to the earth.

Be willing to allow the “weeds” to grow. Watch your garden and see how the energy shifts.