Friday, June 05, 2009

Caring for the garden and why we do that.

Many things in the garden are happy and growing. Most of the new fruit trees are adapting well and putting out new foliage, if not blossoms. The new strawberry patch looks like it will yield actual strawberries just a few weeks after being planted in the ground. The Yukon Gold potatoes and the watermelons are growing like gangbusters.

Some things are not happy. I planted two kinds of popcorn seed, my own variety that I saved from last year, and a commercially available open pollinated heirloom variety. The purchased variety had poor germination and looks wimpy in comparison to my home brew version. Humph. Two of the peach trees are slow to put on foliage. Maybe that's because they are "Frost" peaches, which is to say, a very late blooming variety that is less susceptible to damage from frost. So, maybe late is good, but it does make me antsy when something won't grow.

Our beans germinated rapidly, almost violently. There is a lot of life packed into those dry little packages. Then something immediately started to eat them. Ouch! I'm hoping it's the deer, because I am about to put up a deer resistant electric fence around the garden proper. I already have it up around the orchard, and it seems to be working there.

I haven't found the row of carrots yet, either because they are slow to germinate, or because the crabgrass and other 50 kinds of weeds just popped up 1,000,000 new cute little weeds. They look like carpet where I have not removed them.

I feel sorry for completely new gardeners. They may not realize that the first year or two is the worst. They don't realize that there are literally 10's of 1,000's of weed seeds in every square meter, just waiting to explode when conditions are right. So when you till up the soil to make a nice seed bed, you have also inadvertently made conditions just right for all those weed seeds as well. Weed seed can remain alive and vital for years just laying in the dirt. The prima donna vegetable seeds have to be kept cool and dry and hermetic or they just die. It's not really a fair competition at all. But it gets easier as the years go on and you eventually cut back on the numbers of weed seed that lurk just beneath the surface.

The vast majority of vegetables would be doomed without humans to tilt the balance more in their favor. Using the stirrup hoe the other day, I probably killed 50,000 weed seedlings just by the gentle sweeping action of the hoe as I worked my way up and down the rows. They would have overwhelmed the poor little outnumbered vegetables.

I am often surprised at how much effort gardeners in general, and me in particular, are willing to put in to make our garden thrive. I can make logical arguments about why that is, how the resulting produce is fresher, tastier, pesticide and herbicide free, environmentally friendly because it only has to be shipped 50 feet (not the average of 1,300 miles), etc. But this somehow fails to capture the emotional side of it. I want my plants to thrive. To really anthropomorphize, I want them to be happy. I want to protect them from harm. I want them to be well fed and watered so they are not hungry or thirsty.

It is interesting to observe these feelings that I experience toward organisms that are, by most accounts, completely non-sentient. I feel this is compelling evidence that I am made in the image of a loving and caring God. As a direct consequence of that, I cannot help but love and care for the creatures put in my care if I am in relationship with the God who loves and cares for me. I may not do it perfectly, but I am aware that I should do it. I believe this is another evidence for the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life and in the lives of others.

Finest regards,


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