Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tilling The Inner Land

As you may have noticed, I changed the name of this blog. Unlike Facebook i didn't propose the idea to my entire readership and ask for a vote. Reason being, quite frankly I think all three of you would have taken too long to reply. None the less, you deserve an explanation, and i am semi-prepared to give it to you. Please hold all questions until the end.

The past four years i have attempted to create gardens. My first Garden was in Toledo, OH at my rented duplex. At the time, I only knew that if you put a seed in dirt, it might grow. That was the full extent of my knowledge of gardening. So in a horribly lit area measuring about 4x2 feet i planted peppers, tomatoes and watermelons! the package said i needed to keep a good 12 inches or more between the plants, but i figured they didn't know i had limited space, so i planted enough seeds for probably 30-50 plants of each crop. So i guess around 150 plants in all, when i had enough space for 3 plants, and enough sun for none. There were a huge number of other things i did not take into consideration, but hey, at least i tried. Surprisingly a couple plants managed to grow out of the soil, but yielded hardly anything, and what it did produce, the bugs feasted on. It's nothing short of hilarious to think back on that futile effort.

My second garden was set up for success, but not by me. At this point i still didn't even know that you needed to till the ground. Nor, until recently did i know a thing about soil preparation, building raised bed, etc etc. But a 20 year gardening vet. tilled up some ground for me that had been gardened for some 30 years, so it was good to go. Except the night that i showed up with all my little seed packets to plant in May, I found out that planting seeds in May would lead to me possibly having about five tomatoes before the autumn frost wiped out the plants. So i went out and bought a bunch of pepper, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, watermelon, and cabbage plants. With guidance from my friends i managed to get a pretty good crop that year. though most of it went bad before we could use it, since we still had no clue how to can vegetables.

My third garden consisted of three tomato plants and five pepper plants, planted in planters on our back porch at a new apartment we just moved into. They were doing pretty good, but due to unforeseen troubles with the locals, and many other reasons, we packed our bags and hit the road out west, leaving before getting anything.

Some friends and I have started just a couple weeks ago on my fourth garden. By the grace of God, in the middle of Portland, OR, right next door we were able to secure a .11 acre lot to garden, for free. Being here, I am surrounded by passionate urban gardeners, and I am learning a lot about this wonderful lost trade, that we all need.

For the past couple of weeks we have done nothing but till the soil. till, then till some more, then till that again, and now try again, and again, now a little deeper. Since this is new ground its been especially difficult, due to the extraordinary amount of good size rocks, and the hard clay soil.

So im figuring out that gardening is not just opening a seed packet, dumping it out and covering it with some dirt and then waiting a few months for delicious tomatoes. It takes time. Its a long process that requires much patience, perseverance and beer. It may take years to get a good plot going the way you need it to, but its worth it in the end.

During the tilling process there are a lot of big ugly rocks to remove. There often needs to be some good compost mixed in to make the soil more healthy, and so much more. And this is where the tilling idea comes from.

In our community we have what are called "til-ing" groups. I forget what it stands for, but during these times 3 or so people gather together for an intimate heart to heart conversation. And through prayer, confession, exhortations, etc. we till the hard, unproductive rock-filled soil of our hearts. We kindly assist one another in removing the 'rocks' in our hearts that may choke out the plants that could otherwise grow and produce fruit. These rocks may be sin in our lives, hurts from the past, ignorance, etc.

The Inner Land part, is stolen from Eberhard Arnold's book, called....Inner Land. Bet you didn't see that one coming. Its a tough to read good book. I imagine from the title alone, you get what its general subject might be about...our souls, our hearts, our lives.

So with this new trajectory, lets till the soil in our hearts, in our souls. It may take a lot of painful hard work, requiring patience, perseverance, a bit of beer, and of course each other, but in the end our souls will be suitable soil for wonderful life-giving fruits.

Peace be with us.


1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear that you are learning the beauty (and pain) of gardening......and all the deeper lessons that come along with it. Gardening, canning, living off of the land, etc truly are lost arts that we need to re-learn.