My work in the garden is limited these days, but I was out there yesterday. The baby was in one empty bed on a sheet, tearing a flower apart, and I was in another bed weeding. I was thinking about the “no work” garden technique of raised beds and mulching and how my mother has been doing it for over thirty years and how hers has grown to be the biggest and prettiest personal garden I’ve ever seen, and how it’s occasionally neat but usually wild and never has it ever even for one month been “no work”.
Sometimes she’ll have aspiring gardeners come over and usually they are after some secret sauce, some hidden knowledge from the inner circle, and oftentimes they are chiefly after the harvest. I get this because I have approached so many things in just this same way, only to discover that in art and skill, even in a counter full of tomatoes, there is no inner circle. There is only those who give themselves to the work, and those who don’t.
I found my mother in the garden yesterday morning, and I asked her what is it that you are after mostly in gardening? Is it the harvest?
No she said quickly, then she thought a minute. It’s time in the garden.
I thought about this awhile and came back to her and said So would you say it’s about having a relationship with the land itself?
And the plants she said.
And the plants. The bed I was cleaning out was for rutabagas, a crop we always make room for and seldom harvest. Why do we do it? Because rutabagas are worthwhile and shouldn’t be forgotten and because sometimes we get to eat a few of them and because we need a cover crop to protect the soil…
But mostly because the hope of rutabagas gives us more time in the garden.