Two-bit Guru | Give 'n Take | Photo of a weed in the foreground with pole beans in the background getting ready to harvest

“Giving, in all its forms, might be the key to creating heaven on this earth” ~Two-bit Guru~

Throughout the growing season the earth gives us gifts: peas and lettuce early, potatoes and dry beans near the end, but if we didn’t give to the earth along the way, the harvest wouldn’t be nearly as abundant, nor as healthful.

Stewardship is important to sustain the soil, and to sustain ourselves. It’s a simple, symbiotic relationship, but in recent years some of us have forgotten or disregarded that reality. We attack our environment with poisons, killing the dandelions, killing garden pests, killing weeds, and perhaps doing our bit to kill ourselves, too. There is a better way.

The cycle of growing, when conducted naturally, isn’t so much about give ‘n take as it’s about give ‘n give. When we give to the earth, the earth gives to us. It ought to be the model for how we grow our food, and for how we conduct our lives. The poison process of growing is linear—it’s not a cycle—it’s about take ‘n take. It’s unsustainable and any society that believes otherwise is heading for a mighty big shock somewhere down the road.

I wish I would have weighed our tomato harvest this year because it is undoubtedly the largest we’ve ever enjoyed. How? We dug in horse manure last fall (for nitrogen and who knows what else), and early this spring we added greensand (for potassium), and rock phosphate (for phosphorous). But there’s more to it than the basic elements of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. When we plant we top dress around the seedlings with worm castings. We also make sure there’s plenty of organic matter for the worms in the ground. We are always in the process of creating and maintaining healthy soil. We don’t use pesticides and we don’t use artificial fertilizer.

Good growing practice relies a lot on intuition, on Does this feel like the right thing to do? Or not? Go to the garden store and sniff near their bags of pesticides. Evaluate the smell. Would you put this crap in your bed? No? What does your intuition tell you? The plants, the worms, the insects, the micro-lives in the soil, don’t want it in their bed, either.

Sniff a handful of organic soil. The sweet redolence of the soil cannot be denied. It is beauty. It is sustenance. A simple handful of soil reminds us how to live.