on gardening

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    The Tree at the Bottom of Time Paid Member

    THE WINTER SOLSTICE DRAWS NEAR. Now is the “standstill of the sun.” Germinid meteor showers of early December claim the night sky, obscured only by the huge disc of the Wolf Moon. This is the best season to see the bones of garden plants. More than twenty years ago, at Green Gulch Farm we celebrated our first annual tree planting with Dr. E. F. Schumacher, author of Small Is Beautiful. Dr. Schumacher encouraged us to plant trees and to get to know trees in every way. He reminded us that the Buddha exhorted his disciples to plant, and see to the maintenance of, at least five trees in their lifetime. In this way stable forests were planted throughout northeastern India, all along the pilgrimage routes of the Buddha. More »
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    Timeless Spring Paid Member

    Spring washes over the garden; a torrent of sea-green buds swell with rainwater. Song sparrows and orange-crowned warblers begin their dawn chorus well before zazen, reminding cross-legged sitters in the ten directions that it is time to sow Tarahumara sunflowers and Trail o’ Tears beans. At Green Gulch Farm we lightly mark and honor the changing seasons of the year. Lightly, since from the thirteenth century onward Zen master Eihei Dogen has been haranguing wall-gazing meditators… Spring washes over the garden; a torrent of sea-green buds swell with rainwater. Song sparrows and orange-crowned warblers begin their dawn chorus well before zazen, reminding cross-legged sitters in the ten directions that it is time to sow Tarahumara sunflowers and Trail o’ Tears beans. More »
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    Against the Grain Paid Member

    For the last few days I have been lost in the thicket of the Indian summer garden, gathering the ripe seed of Galactic lettuce, Russian sunflowers, and multi-hued quinoa that hails from the Andean highlands. My hands ache from cracking open brittle pods and threshing autumn seed treasures to plant in next year’s garden and to give away. More »
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    On Gardening: Steaming With Buddhahood Paid Member

    While I have been working and meditating at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center for almost three decades, a few seasons ago our family moved “off campus,” about a mile or so up the road, to the coastal community of Muir Beach, where an active clutch of former Zen Center residents continues to practice in the wide embrace of the so-called real world. More »
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    Heavy Grace Paid Member

    Both my parents died at the end of 1998, each of them on a Monday, a little less than three months apart. Although they had been divorced for forty years, they flared out together like two long-tailed meteors burning a nasty parallel gash in the cold dome of the winter sky. Even though I have been practicing Zen meditation for twenty-eight years and working as a front-line hospice volunteer for ten, nothing helps. Nothing. The back of my head has been ripped off and I’m immune to that unctuous snake oil salve of “no coming, no going; no birth, no death” that well-intentioned Zen friends dab on my raw scalp. Give me good old Rujing from twelfth-century China any day, who, when setting fire to Elder Yi’s funeral bier, cried out, “Ah, the swift flames in the wind flare up—all atoms in all worlds do not interchange.” More »
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    Whitefly Zen Paid Member

    As a front-line organic gardener allergic to pesticides of any stripe, I have ample opportunity to practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in our huge, teeming garden. Lately, as clouds of pests and beneficial organisms descend onto our spring crops, I begin to see that Zen practice itself if a kind of “integrated pest management.” “Keep your enemies close, and practice diligently as if to save your head from fire,” I mutter to myself as sucking whiteflies blanket the lower leaves of our heritage tomato plants growing in the greenhouse. More »