Food, air, water and sunlight – put these together, insert a seed and chances are a plant will grow. It’s the same for giant Sequoias and tiny daisies. Growing healthy plants is an opportunity to become more fully present in this moment, to be still and listen closely. How is the plant doing? Most plants have a very strong will to live, just look around, they’re popping through the cracks in the sidewalk, or pushing up through asphalt. We’re kidding ourselves if we think it’s hard to assist plants to grow. Mostly we need to learn to get out of the way, once we’ve given them what they need.
There are, generally speaking, two kinds of plants – wild and domesticated – yes yes plants have been domesticated. Some plants, mostly our staple food plants, have been in relationship with us human types for so long they have been selected for living in garden conditions. So then, before you plant, or even put a shovel into the soil, think about what kind of plant you are going to plant. If it’s a marigold, then tilled and aerated garden soil is best. If it’s the wonderful trillium you just bought at the native plant sale, then disturb the soil as little as possible, and even use some soil from a place that trilliums already grow happily… if that kind of a soil is accessible to you. Soil is teeming with microorganisms so you only need a little bit to innoculate your garden. Some plants won’t grow without the other soil inhabitants, Madrone and Douglas fir trees absolutely have to have the correct innoculants before they can thrive. Our garden plants aren’t as picky, they like humus and nitrogen and tend to be very tolerant of garden conditions…and they can grow in just about any kind of soil.
I’ve got very sandy soil, easy to dig, light and fluffy but lacking in nutrients. Heavy clay soil on the other hand is hard to dig but rich rich rich! Six of one ;and half a dozen of the other, we work with what we’ve got. You can’t change the soil type you have, so give that up, but you can improve conditions for the plants…
next post: how to improve conditions for your plants!