Thursday, April 16, 2009

Eco- community

Gardening with Nature Spirits
Article By Jon Caswell
photos by Melissa Carugati

You’ve probably heard of people who talk to their plants, but in our garden the plants talk back. That’s right, we ask them questions, and they answer. Using that information we adjust conditions as the plant specifies, and that makes them happy. Happy plants are prolific and fecund, which sort of exponentially increases the enjoyment one receives growing a garden.
You don’t have to learn a new language to communicate with plants, but you do need to ask yes/no questions, and you need to learn a way to interpret their yes/no answers. Here’s how we do it (in this example, right is the dominant hand):
1. On your left hand, touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your little finger. Insert the thumb and index finger of your right hand into this circle, spreading the digits so your right thumbnail is pressing against the inside of your left thumb, and the back of your index finger is touching the inside of your left little finger.
2. Make this statement: “Show me a ‘yes’” as you press outward with your right thumb and index finger. The arch of your left thumb and pinkie will either hold or break. Whichever it does, that is “yes” for you.
3. Drop your hands to your side and then do the exercise again with this statement: “Show me a ‘no’” as you press outward with your right thumb and forefinger. Again, the arch of your left thumb and pinkie will either hold or break. Whichever it does, that is “no” for you.
4. In our experience, “yes” is generally strong and the connection holds, and “no” is generally weak and the arch breaks, but you need to check this for yourself.

Now you know the vocabulary plants use to speak to humans. Of course, the success of that communication depends on you learning how to ask quality questions. For more on that, see “How to Ask” on pX.
At this point you are probably asking the obvious question, who is answering? In a word, “devas.”
Each plant species has its own deva (DAY-vah). The deva is the consciousness that manifests as that species. The deva is not in the individual plant but is an overarching intelligence behind it. Devas are not sentimental or attached to a particular plant; if you kill a plant it does not hurt the deva’s feelings. It will use the energy that was in that plant somewhere else. The deva is the numen or spirit that animates the DNA.
If you are a typical American, you have been well educated in scientific materialism, and this concept of devas animating plants is not in your paradigm. We’ll grant that it is fairly woo-woo, but the thing is, talking to plants works, listening to plants works even better AND it makes gardening an exquisitely fun adventure where we cavort with the Numinous with delicious and beautiful results in the physical world.
Whenever we’re going to play in our garden, we open a “coning” (CO-ning). This is a simple ceremony where we invite the devas, spirits and numina of our habitat to join us. Here’s an example: “I’d like to open a habitat (or ‘garden’) coning and invite the deva of my habitat and the devas of rosemary and tomatoes and peppers and basil, and my True Self.” You check if each is present using the yes/no technique. Once the coning is open and all the devas are present – we’ve never had one refuse to attend – we can ask as many questions as we want. At the end of the day, we have a brief ceremony releasing each deva, again using the yes/no technique to make sure they are released.
We are not the inventors of devic communication. We learned this way of doing it from the work of Machelle Small Wright. She has published prolifically and has an extraordinary garden in Virginia based on these principles. Findhorn Garden in Scotland is another famous place where human beings learned to talk to devas and produced remarkable results with plants.
Besides our plants, we communicate with the bug population of our habitat, which has essentially neutralized the need for man-made pesticides. We give organic nutrients to our soil, and on occasion a particular plant requires something additional. Any plant that shows stress, we ask what it needs – again, refer to “How to Ask” on p X – and do whatever it asks. A quick story on that: One year we had a terrible infestation of bark aphids that just showed up overnight. The trunks and limbs of our 40-year-old live oaks were alive with these ghastly looking creatures oozing goo everywhere. This went a day or two before Linda opened a coning and explained that she would not tolerate this imbalance in our habitat: “I want balance in my habitat,” she demanded. The next day we started seeing these pea-sized black spots on our house – they were ladybug lions, the pupa stage of ladybugs. And guess what – they love bark aphids. They ate them and ate them and ate them. By the afternoon there were countless ladybug lions munching bark aphids. Within 48 hours, there were no bark aphids on our property and a profusion of ladybugs which then dispersed.
We have always loved plants, and like any living thing, they respond to that. We have houseplants that we’ve had for 30 years. But learning to communicate with plant devas has increased our appreciation and fascination exponentially, not to mention our results.

How to Ask
Conversing with plants is not like conversing with people. For instance, when a plant is obviously not doing well, you can’t ask it to tell you the particular nutrient it needs. Here’s how we handle that: We have a written, multi-page list of plant nutrients that we got out of a book, and we ask the plant, “Is the nutrient you need on this list?” If it answers “yes,” we ask “Is it on p. 1?” “No.” “Page 2?” “No.” “Page 3?” “Yes.”
“Is it in the first 10 items?” “No.” “Second 10?” “Yes.”
“In the first five?” “Yes.” “Is it #1?” And so on till we identify a particular item. Then we identify the amount it needs: “Do you need more than a tablespoon?” “Yes.” “More than two tablespoons?” “No.” “A tablespoon and half?” “No.” “Less?” “No.” “One and three-quarters?” “Yes.”
This may seem like it would take a long time and be so involved, but the truth is once you get used to it, you can do it very quickly. And considering how much guess work it takes out of your gardening efforts, it is a vast time saver.
The hardest part of gardening with devas is getting over your doubts that it is possible. It is so easy to doubt this technique, to convince yourself that you are making up the responses. Do it anyway, despite your doubts, and soon you will have a garden that is the envy of your neighbors. As much as plants appreciate being talked to, they like being listened to even more. What do you have to lose? Just your belief that the success of your garden lies solely with you. It doesn’t, there’s a whole kingdom of enthusiastic contributors eager to help.

Let’s Talk about Grass
In most suburban yards, gardens are relegated to the area right around the house, and the prime gardening areas are devoted to turf grass. On the whole lawns require a lot of water and work, especially during the spring, summer and fall. And for all that effort and expense, they provide little pleasure. There’s none of the expectancy (and challenge) that comes with plants that sprout, grow, bud, blossom, flower and fruit. Over the years we have gotten rid of almost all the grass in our yard and replaced it with vegetable patches, pocket gardens and areas of annuals and perennials. During that time, we’ve learned to get rid of grass without much labor.
The easiest way we’ve found is called “lasagna gardening.” Compared to digging up the grass, this is almost no work. Grass needs sunlight to grow. You can deny it this by covering it with layers of newspaper and junk mail. Don’t be stingy with the paper; it should be several layers thick, for instance an entire section of newspaper rather than just two or three sheets. Be generous, all this paper will disintegrate over time, long after the grass is dead.
Once you have covered the area where you want your garden, enclose the area with landscape timbers and cover the paper with compost at least six inches thick. Again, don’t be stingy, this compost will compact as it is watered over time.
Next plant your plants. Over the growing season they will establish their roots, and the water will cause the paper to decompose while denying light to the grass, which will die. Next year add more compost, plant your plants, and you are good to go.

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