Friday, May 13, 2011

Garden like God does... or #3 of 100 Simple Suggestions

Yesterday I spent four hours working in my front yard. It's not your typical front yard, as we've gotten rid of a good portion of the lawn. Last spring, we got a couple of yards of soil and compost, begged newspapers from all our neighbours, and embarked upon a lasagna gardening adventure.

In case you're not familiar with lasagna gardening, it means that we spread a fairly thick layer of newspaper all over the grass monoculture that we no longer wanted to mow, fertilize and water, then put on a thick layer of compost mixed with soil, and planted a few seeds in it. The grass under the newspaper, soil and compost layers decomposed, and above it we had lovely cosmos, bachelor buttons, poppies, marigolds, zinnias and lavatera, as well as two zucchini plants. The stuff that the jackrabbits didn't eat looked quite lovely by the end of the summer.

Our boring-lawn-monoculture-turned-to-garden has become something of a conversation piece in the neighbourhood. People stop to ask me about what's growing or tell stories about their own gardening. Not one person ever stopped to comment on our lawn! We also see a lot more birds, bees and rabbits -- one jack has a favourite cool hollow under a spirea shrub, and he'll sit there in the shade with an eye open just a crack -- as long as I putter at a distance. The closest I've come is about four feet. He scared the wits our of me that day because I hadn't noticed him before he sprang out of his hiding place.

We have a large-ish oak tree that drops at least a million leaves every fall, so last October I decided to garden like God does. Instead of bagging all those leaves, I raked them over our lasagna garden, watered them down, and waited for winter, refusing to behave like the suburbanite tribes in the conversation between God and St. Francis. Those leaves stayed put under two feet of snow, and protected my perennials. In the past few days, I've loosened them up a little, and yesterday I decided it was time to plant a few annual seeds in the soil underneath. I could just imagine those happy little seeds under the leaf mulch, taking root, absorbing all those marvelous leaf nutrients, and poking up through the mulch in a few weeks' time.

Just one problem. For the past 24 hours, it has been extremely windy... so my newly loosened leaves have been blowing away. I cringe when I look to some of my neighbours' yards, yards that are usually perfect but now have leaves strewn across them, but then I tell myself that I'm just generously sharing organic material. Even worse is my lasagna garden, now missing at least half of its top leaf-mulch layer (which also prevents our neighbourhood Dutch Elm trees' seeds from taking root by the millions). I'm guessing God is chuckling away as She and He listens to my muttering about how there's no point in raking it all back onto the garden when the wind is still gusting between 40 and 60 km/h. Oh well, it's a setback, is all, and I'm going to keep on trying to garden like God. I just have to remember that God's way is not manicured or unmessy. God seems to be a very laid-back gardener who loves a little dandelion chaos rather than those strict, green rectangle monocultures that don't allow for any weeds to feed His and Her early bees.

So what does all of this have to do with Simple Suggestion #3? The suggestion is simply to plant a seed. God is doing it all the time, abundantly.

The view from our front step, July 31, 2010.

P.S. Looking for more Simple Suggestions? See here.

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