Monday, April 4, 2016

Transformation of a Garden and Hugel Bed Creation

Hugel Bed: First we added fir cones and bark. 
I have written about my garden transformation many times.  It continues still.  Yesterday, one of my apprentice graduate brought her apprentices to my farm and my garden to build another hugel bed.  

It began when we first moved here.  The very first year of my garden, it was completely cultivated.  So many vegetables, flowers and herbs.  It was magnificent.  

And then I began to teach my classes in shamanic herbalism here and offer apprenticeships for women.  My time to garden became less as I began to teach more.  

The first couple of years I still cultivated quite a bit and I started noticing that I liked the grasses that were growing in the garden, I like the weeds a lot.  I became somewhat enamored of the Canadian thistle.  And I also felt guilt and shame around not having garden that looked like it was supposed to.  

Hugel Bed: Next we added apple sticks. 
I would make excuses when people would come to my garden about why there were weeds and grasses where beautiful groomed plants should be. One person even made a comment about how my garden wasn't what she expected.  It became a source of anxiety for me to love the wild plants, the umkempness of the garden and the thoughts that ran through my mind that I should just get it together and have a groomed garden.  

A few things led me to a new way with this.  I teach shamanic herbalism which has a lot to do with the invisible space where you can here the plants speaking to you.  My practice was getting deeper and deeper as I communicated more and more with the wild plants.  I had learned practices at a yearly gathering called, The Fairy Congress about communicating with the elementals, the fairies and other beings that did their magical work on the land. The last time I attended this conference, I ended up sitting next to and conversing with a number of different bee keepers about their practices.  
I had hired a work exchange student to help me in the garden.  I was beginning to have strong feelings that I didn't want to disturb the micro-ecosystem that lived in the soil.  She
Hugel Bed: Then we added goat manure
 wasn't really on board with me about this and then she quit.  I had a physical challenge at that time and so I really needed the help.  I was in shock for a few days since it was June and the time was ripe to really do some gardening.  

I could have freaked out about this but instead I had this bright idea to let the garden go wild.  I called it rewilding.  I didn't pull weeds, I didn't plant seeds.  I just let it go.  I wasn't sure what I was doing. I wondered what would happen.  

What happened is that I began to also let go of the guilt and shame and anxiety that I had about making it perfect.  And what else happened is that I began to communicate with the being that inhabited the garden.  I had always loved the insects, the bees and the ladybugs and the beetles.  I had grown to like the wasps, telling them they could stay in the garden if they didn't bother me.  But then after returning from the Fairy Congress and allowing the garden to rest in its natural form, I noticed the insects were communicating with me.  I learned that they are messengers and that they were coming around to tell me things.  

rewilded the garden for over two years....letting it do its own thing. 
Hugel Bed: And then we added plant compost.
All these things we used to create the hugel bed
were from our land.

And then I was introduced to a man, Masanobu Fukuoka and his book, The One Straw Revolution.  In this book he talks about his transformation from being a scientist studying disease in rice, to a farmer who practiced natural farming.  He said most people talk about doing this and doing that....he said what about not doing this and not doing that.  I found his writing to reflect a Taoist perspective.  What he was talking about in his book was what I was yearning to do, and I was doing it.  

That was last year.  And then a friend sent me information about hugel kultur a type of permaculture gardening.  And I was excited.  I was going to do this.  And I did this with the help of a very inspiring young woman, Sophie Geist.   

We just built our eighth hugel bed in the garden.   The other thing I am doing or not doing is weeding big patches of grass out of the garden like I have done for years.  We are cutting the grass and cutting some of the buttercup and disturbing the soil ecosystem as little as possible.  
The Hugel Bed is complete.

The is a beginning for me. 

Right now when I go out in my garden, there is this little “field” of buttercup with the horsetail male flowers emerging from it.  There is swamp grass and amongst it is comfrey, marshmallow and elecampane, some mustard and motherwort.  There is a lovely pie cherry tree with red tulip blooming below it that are naturalizing and spreading.  There is a wild rose that showed up a few years back and near it is a native crone wort plant.  

I love my wild garden.  I can breathe in it.  It makes me happy like when I was a child in the little grassy vacant lot near my home.  

May it be in Beauty.  

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