Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gardening at the Dragon's Gate

I love January. It's the month when all the seed catalogs arrive and millions of gardeners begin to dream about the new plants that will be in their gardens. I understand that the seed companies believe this will be a big year, because of the economy, for first time gardeners who want to grow their own veggies.

My favorite seed catalogs are Cooks Garden and Seeds of Change, but I must tell you about a company I just read about --Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. It was started by a young couple in the Missouri Ozarks. The company is 12 years old and I'm just discovering them. I believe deeply in heritage preservation -- in seeds and livestock (one of the reasons we have an heirloom turkey at Thanksgiving despite the expense). I will add the Baker Creek link to my Link Mania sidebar today! You can visit them here.

I bet some of you thought, when you saw the title for this post, that I was talking about our garden. After all, the dragons do live here! Nope. Gardening at the Dragon's Gate by Wendy Johnson is about Wendy's experience as a gardener at the Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center in northern California. I read this book over the summer slowly devouring it. Everything is here from geology to preparing the soil to farmers markets to mushrooms to insects (good and bad) to, well you get the idea. All of this plus a little Zen. Johnson has spent 30 years at Green Gulch. The book is a celebration of inner and outer growth. I enjoyed the book. It was a little slow in parts -- lets say weighted down with necessary information that I wasn't interested in (even when maybe I should have been). I love the resources at the end of the book that are in chapter order and include references on books, articles, web sites from everything imaginable in the gardening and Buddhist world. It will take me years to read all of the information I have *bookmarked*.

Here are just a few of the quotes I have taken from the book that *grabbed* me.

"A day of no work is a day of no eating." ~old Zen proverb.

"You enter the garden because you love creation." ~Alan Chadwick (one of Wendy's teachers).

"Plants grow and purify the air, they clean toxins out of polluted soil, they make food and medicine that support all animal life, and they supply the world with fuel, clothing, tools, shelter, warmth and beauty from their growth and metabolism."

"Every garden is unique, quirky, distinct and disobedient, just like every gardener..."

"Watering is a form of courtship...".

"...all four seasons of the year are present in the span of one day. Thus, spring is the dawn of the day, full summer is high noon, autumn falls at dusk and father winter oversees the midnight hour."

And lastly, my favorite, "You are fine just as you are,' Suzuki Roshi used to say (another of her teachers), 'and you could use a little improvement." Me too!

I've had great fun the last couple of days visiting the folks on the gypsy caravan in the One World One Heart giveaway. There are well over 500 bloggers participating. I have almost visited each blog and once I do, I'll go back and spend more time with, I hope, each and every one. The world is full of talented and interesting people. It has been great fun to *meet* many generous souls. You can find the list by clicking on the image on the sidebar. Thank you, Lisa, for putting the gypsy caravan together!


Laume said...

Those are some of my favorite catalogs as well. You might also try Pinetree Seeds. They have lovely "mini packets" so you can try something you're not sure about or if your gardening space is small and you want to try more variety. Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll put it on my "to find" list. What did you think (if you've read it) of Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle?

Snap said...


I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I have the link to their website on my sidebar. I thought it brought up a lot of issues that people should be thinking about. Thanks for visiting. Come again.

Anonymous said...

I bought this book last summer as a retirement gift to myself. I haven't read it yet, but I'm enjoying it. I moved from Okinawa to Illinois and I'm enjoying planning my first "real" garden.

Pretty Things said...

Before I got into beading, I was heavily (HEAVILY) into gardening. My only problem with it was when no one told me just how MANY tomatoes 47 tomato plants would PRODUCE!