Monday, August 6, 2007

To the Land

It feels so good to be working in the garden again. Working with live soil in a productive and positive way means a lot to me. Although I have been successful with my own gardens in the past, I have not had the opportunity to truly work with the soil in a natural way. I have always abstained from the use of chemicals or pesticides while gardening, and feel strongly about growing and eating organic vegetables.
Here at the Tree of Life, we really try to let nature do all the work. Growing plants with "partners" helps eliminate some of the pest issues and helps to build nutrients in the soil. One example is to plant clover all around our greens. This helps to put nitrogen back into the soil. We also grow tamotillos next to the cucumbers. The tomatillos will attract the bugs that would normally eat all the cucumber plants. One more example is to grow corn, beans and zucchini all next to each other. The zucchini provides shade for the beans and the corn stalks provide a natural trellous for the beans. Plus, they all take different nutrients from the each so no one nutrient is wiped out completely from the ground.
Alden, our garden manager is full of knowledge. He incorporates the use of EM, aka effective microorganisms, as well as ocean grown minerals into the soil here. Alden is big on wild foods, and once spent a few weeks only eating what he harvested in the wild!! He currently eats foods grown and harvested within 150 miles of Patagonia. It is a blessing to be in the presence of someone who is so dedicated to the land. Alden is in a way, the garden. Going on hikes with him, usually ends up with snacks of wild edibles.
My enjoyment of the garden and need to learn more is leading me to Costa Rica. After Thanksgiving, I will be flying to Costa Rica and hope to spend my winter in the tropics. I plan on taking part in the WWOOF program,(world wide opportunities in organic farming). There are many farms that will openly take volunteers to spend time on their property in exchange for food and shelter. I am lucky that I will most likely be able to harvest most of my meals from the trees. Costa Rica is a fruit lovers paradise!!!
I am not sure where all of this will take me, but I have realized that being connected to the soil is just as important to me as the food I eat.

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