on gardening

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    A Non-Repeating Universe Paid Member

    Years ago Richard Baker Roshi described the field of Zen practice as a “non-repeating universe.” Whenever I sow seeds, I remember these words. Every garden sown from seed is a world within a world, a complete mystery. And this winter, in particular, as I roll more than thirty-five varieties of wild-land seed into little clay seed balls to resow fire- devastated land, the non-repeating universe stirs to life inside each globe of clay. Every January and February at Green Gulch Farm we tend the wider watershed that stretches beyond the garden gate and links our garden to that mosaic of gardens that dot the curved horn of the California headlands. This year I’ve been packing “seed gardens” inside of protective balls of clay to help revegetate the fire-scoured wilderness north of us on Point Reyes peninsula. More »
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    The Eightfold Garden Paid Member

    The garden, wrote British author Thomas Hill in 1577, is a “ground plot for the mind.” Granted, “but also for the heart,” I reckon early this morning, down on my hands and knees, weeding the sinuous paths of our newest, four-month-old kids’ garden. Gardens are not created or made, they unfold, spiraling open like the silk petals of an evening primrose flower to reveal the ground plot of the mind and heart of the gardener and the good earth. At least this is the way the kids’ garden evolved when, early last March, my 23-year-old dharma buddy, Suehiko Ono, and I stood on the ragged, 40-foot-by-40-foot spit of weedy wasteland where we have been scrubbing and storing our compost buckets for a few years and watched as a new garden emerged, hissing and wild-eyed, from out of our minds. More »
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    No Idea But In Things Paid Member

    In the Green Gulch glasshouse we are nursing a decidedly ailing Bodhi tree that pines in every cell of its being for Mother India. Our Bodhi tree, Ficus religiosa, or the sacred fig tree, is a descendant of the original enlightenment tree under which Shakyamuni Buddha took his place more than 2,500 years ago. Inclining longingly toward the Indian subcontinent where it thrives as a robust, stout-hearted being, our fog-bound Bodhi tree stoically endures the coastal cold of these late autumn nights, yearning for sun-ripened mango breezes and for a certain saffron-robed sage of old. More »
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    Grassroots Dharma Paid Member

    Gardening is radical work, with deep, disobedient roots like those of a solitary rye grass plant punching down through stiff shale to fan out in a grassroots network five miles long. Gardening is political work, connecting people and plants and stirring up new life out of uncommon ground. And gardens belong to all beings who love and depend on them, from blind moles to the frontline gardeners at City Slicker Farm, in West Oakland, who grow Ruby Crescent potatoes in old tires, stacked high above toxic ground. More »
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    And Give Thanks For This Food Paid Member

    In La Unión, a village in northwestern Colombia, the soil is rich and dark. Food crops like corn, beans, yucca, and rice thrive, as do the export crops: baby bananas, cocoa beans, and avocados. The earth gives so much that during the mango season the fruit falls off the trees to rot on the ground. During avocado season, the huge, light-green avocados are so plentiful that the people often feed them to their pigs. More »
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    The Medicine Wheel Garden Paid Member

    My dharma sister of twelve precious years died this past winter by her own hand at the edge of her garden, in the curt junction of November meteor showers crossing over ripe persimmons on a bare branch. I loved her complex garden—it was like her mind, a labyrinth of roses pulling you down, out of conventional reality and into the deep well of time. It was a spirit garden, not a religious place. “Religion is for those scared to death of hell,” she liked to quip, repeating a popular dharma joke. “Spirituality is for those who have been there.” More »