1991

GARDENING
THE AGONY AND THE ECSTASY

June 1991
This morning the garden slugs devoured the 34th romaine transplant in my main garden. This was the third round of transplants I've moved into the garden on the advice of nature in the last 6 weeks.

Early this spring I developed a design in my main garden using the co-creative process. I came up with 9 small circles which were to contain combinations of herbs, vegetables and flowers, as well as herbs and flowers in the area surrounding the circles. In April I planted lettuce and spinach in 4 of the circles and carrots in a 5th. By May, the garden slugs had devoured everything in sight; and one of my cats decided that circle #9 was a perfect latrine. I lost all my spinach in that bed too.

I've got a great garden design going, I do all the energy processes, and I have literally no vegetables. My moods vacillate between gloom at how little evidence of co-creativity I'm able to see, and bursts of hope that if I keep trying, some insight or tangible result will show up in my awareness, and maybe in my garden. Sometimes I read several times that part in Workbook II about how co-creative gardening is much more than raising beautiful vegetables and that sometimes gardens look like hell before they become balanced. But in my darker moments I imagine buying 20 pounds of slug bait and declaring war on everything that looks hungry in my garden.

I bought this property 3 years ago and remember finding old boxes of slug bait in the basement that the former owners had left behind. For 2 years I also used slug bait too. Every morning I would walk across a battlefield of slug corpses — but I had vegetables. Over last winter, while I recovered from a brain tumor operation, I read your first workbook. In the early spring, I went outdoors and declared the land inclusive and co-creative. I think my big mistake was when I mentioned to nature that I would be willing to forego produce this year if I could learn this process and have some experiences with nature. Oops!

I do the Calibration Process and it helps me. At least I don't give up gardening or revert to old ways. But really, the most I've been able to intuit in all of this is that the garden needs a lot of healing, and I am going to need to invest a significant amount of time healing the rift between the slugs and me. That's about the extent of my insight. What really stupefies me is that when I ask if I'm to keep re-seeding the beds that keep being eaten up, I get a positive answer. Part of me thinks, "My god! Where's the co-creative justice in this?!"

Whew! It feels good to tell you that I'm at least one person who finds the co-creative process difficult, challenging, and often confusing as hell. I hope you have found there are others like me out there. It would support me to know that other people have also found that linking up consciously with nature isn't always light and loveliness.

I'm enclosing a check for flower essences in the hope that adding them to my work in the garden will help. (I would try foliar feeding with them, but I have nothing to feed.) I have also checked the box for receiving a networking list of people in my area.

Thank you for your wonderful work and your superb sense of humor. I often return to your writings to cheer me up or push me forward when I begin to feel like this approach to nature is all a ridiculous fantasy or only for the "gifted." Finally, if I'm doing something obviously wrong or am way off track, I wish you would send me the briefest of notes about it — I suspect you get a million requests for this. On the other hand, if what I'm describing to you makes sense, I would also accept and greatly appreciate a "Good work. Keep it up!" Thanks again. Some day when I have more experience and the right questions, I will come to one of your workshops.

 

Editor's note: We sent a brief note letting him know that we felt he was right on target with nature and that perhaps he might want to change his agreement with nature to include some garden produce for himself. He acknowledged our note in July and wrote that "Some breakthroughs/positive things have happened." We wrote back and suggested that he let us know about his progress. He wrote the following letter.

 

August 1991
I appreciate your encouraging me to write a follow-up to my June letter. It's true, I have some experiences to report. I sit here wondering how best to do this. Experiences sometimes don't mean much out of context, so I'll include an occasional piece of background information that may help. Gardening is something I'm learning to do, am drawn to do and sometimes love to do. But my time for gardening is limited. I maintain a private practice in mental health counseling, teach occasionally at a Seattle based Naturopathic College, and from October to May, offer a professional training program in Psychosynthesis. I was clear with nature about my time restrictions and, as I mentioned to you in my June letter, maybe too literal about wanting to learn the co-creative process. I have three gardens: a main garden, a dirt floor green house garden, and a corn garden. I soon discovered that maintaining three separate gardens the old way — you know, fertilize, plant in neat rows at my convenience, weed, kill slugs — is an easier process than the co-creative one I was entering into. For example, in the main garden alone I was suddenly faced with a specific time line for planting 22 varieties of vegetables, 15 different herbs, 5 varieties of perennials and 10 different annuals. I had 3 focus points, 9 circles, and 26 sections surrounding these circles. Had everything sprouted and developed according to plan, it would have been one gorgeous garden. Today, I look at the garden and the words that come are "peaceful" and "mysterious," but hardly a gardener's typical success story. With all due respect to nature, I have no produce in this garden. We (nature and I) tried to work out a 60-40 split (60 in my favor). At this date, I have two healthy tomato plants, five cabbages, a few kale, one spinach plant which must be an incredible survivor, a beautiful stand of rhubarb, about a million nasturtiums, and a lot of mulch. What has happened is that something akin to trauma is "resolving." This is the best word I have to describe it. Trauma, overstimulation, a need for insects to eat everything in sight, cats that dig up seed beds and lie on sprouts — I sense that this is "resolving." I reseeded portions of the main garden three times in May and June. Each time nearly everything was eaten or dug up. Gradually, that frantic energy I'm trying to describe here seemed to subside. Nature supports my awareness of this. It tells me that balance will likely not occur until the end of the growing season. I accept this. Period!

My greenhouse garden is another story. In my opinion, it is pretty darn attractive. I have one circle garden, 7 feet in diameter and one focus point in the southeast corner of the structure where I have placed 5 crystals. The garden contains 7 tomato plants, 3 pepper plants, alyssum and calendula. In the center of the circle are Walla Walla onions, 2 varieties of parsley and 3 varieties of basil. This garden maintains an integrity that is inspiring to say the least. Tomato plants grow straight and tall rather than branching out in all directions. Every plant in this small garden has ample room to develop and to take its share of sunlight.

The garden is a home for a colony of "little armored beetles" (That's what I call them). Last year and the year before they feasted on most of my radishes and carrots, and I would always find them dispersed everywhere in the garden. This year I was instructed to do insect triangulation as well as three other energy processes. Today the beetles travel only in groups. I'll see them (50 or more) surrounding only one calendula leaf, where they remain until that leaf is gone. And then I won't see them for a few days. One day I accidentally broke off a tomato leaf while I was watering the garden, and left it on the ground. The next day dozens of beetles surrounded this leaf and slowly devoured it. From then on, whenever I find tomato suckers, I simply snip them off and drop them on the ground as food for the beetles.

Here's another experience I had. The last two years I found ants in my greenhouse. The first year I sprayed with poison. I had found what looked like sawdust on parts of the wooden frame and became alarmed that I was housing carpenter ants. Last year I found no indication of ants but early this summer the powdery sawdust began to reappear and again I saw ants.

Then, one afternoon I walked into the greenhouse and witnessed the following event. I saw a trail of ants coming from the southwest corner of the greenhouse, carrying larvae and depositing them in a pile near the center of the circle garden. From the northeast, another army of ants were marching into the garden, picking up larvae and carrying them back the way they came.

In my panic I asked nature if this was a problem. I was told to relax and observe. By the end of the day, all the eggs had been removed from the garden area and the ants were gone. I've not seen an ant in the greenhouse since. Did they move their home? I don't know. They don't seem to be around. More important, this event happened at a time when I was available to observe it. To me it represents nature's willingness to both reveal itself to me and teach me about balance and healing. I asked nature why the greenhouse garden could arrive at balance quicker and easier than the main garden. I heard in response that the level of trauma was not as great as it was in the main garden. I have to say that I believe this.

My corn garden is simple: Three circles, each containing summer squash in the center and 2 varieties of corn around the perimeter. Two of the circles have not taken off well. The third circle of corn and squash is robust and healthy (I had to plant this circle twice because the slugs ate the first planting). Weeds grew in this circle as quickly as the squash. In one garden meeting, and after the second planting, I was told to avoid pulling up any weeds.

Every time I went out to look at this circle the slugs would be wrapped around the weeds but not around the squash. After a few weeks the squash plants were huge and I got the go ahead to weed the bed. Why didn't the slugs eat the squash? Is this an example of natural balance? I have no idea. Again, I'm beginning to understand the point you make in your workbooks, that nature as teacher is asking us to observe events. In time I hope to understand the "whys." In a recent garden meeting (I hold one per week) and at the end of the session, nature told me that it had something to tell me. I waited for more than five minutes trying to get a message. In my imagination I saw the sanctuary up in the woods I had offered to nature more than a year ago. I received a yes response that I was to go look at it at some point during the day.

I figured my ego was running amuck by now and so I was hesitant to follow through. I did, though, and when I arrived at the sanctuary later in the afternoon, I saw that a large alder had fallen across one corner of it. The rope I had used as a boundary had not broken. It was just partially pinned under the weight of the tree. Debris and tree limbs had landed in the roped off area. I asked if nature wanted me to restore the sanctuary as best I could and I got a yes. I took this as another attempt on nature's part to demonstrate to me that I am linked with nature and it is communicating with me.

This next experience is for me the richest and most poignant. May and June were difficult months for me. It seemed like no matter what I planted was gone only days after sprouting. I was in and out of depression, I was angry at nature, and I was calibrating and doing MAP like crazy. Toward the end of June and the beginning of July, I managed to pull off more than 26 insect triangulations, mostly in the main garden but some in the greenhouse. I didn't think I had the energy or the attitude for it, but each time I opened up a coning and got started, I'd fall into a rhythm and actually feel energized from it.

On July 12, I opened my weekly garden meeting, and at the end of the session, I asked if there was anything else I needed to know. I got a strong "yes," so I asked for a hint, thinking I would also go through the troubleshooting list if I didn't get some insight. Instantly and unexpectedly, I was touched, deeply. First in the heart center and then throughout my body with clear expressions of thanks and gratitude for my efforts. Nature was thanking me for my work! I was so overcome by the experience, that I wept. It stayed with me for the remainder of the morning. It's been my greatest direct hit from nature.

So there you have it, my friends. I am grateful that you have worked to develop processes that I can apply and learn from.

By the way, my garden team asked to be involved in the writing of this letter to you.

— C.M., Washington