U is for Underneath #AtoZChallenge
On April 24, 2015 | 13 Comments | gardening, writing, Yoga |

As we hit the home stretch of the AtoZChallenge, I want to congratulate all of the participants on a job well done. I’ve met so many great people in this process and had a blast. I hope you have, too.


Throughout this month I’ve posted photos of my garden. You’ve seen lots of flowers and lush, green leaves. But it’s what’s underneath that fascinates me. To have beautiful flowers and nutritious fruits and veggies, we need to tend to what’s underneath…the soil.

There’s a whole universe underneath our feet. Soil, untouched by pesticides, is alive and vibrant with microbes. When we eat organic food, we’re not just ingesting an absence of something, but the presence of microbes that can keep our gut healthy and strong in a toxic world.

Acid soil for blueberries, alkaline soil for asparagus…my soil varies from bed to bed, depending on the needs of the plants. As with everything else in life, one size does not fit all.

Recently, while digging in the garden, I encountered a large population of worms doing their thing, aerating the soil and leaving their rich castings behind. My compost bin is loaded with them, wriggling, turning, and crawling around, turning my food scraps into rich, black, nutritious food for the soil. When worms are hanging around, you know you’re doing something right.

Our soil needs nurturing just as our bodies do. Come spring I add plenty of compost, both homemade and store-bought, mixed with composted chicken manure. I spray my fruit trees with teas made from comfrey, nettle, neem, and kelp. It’s the same time of year I do my spring Ayurvedic cleanse, in which I load up my body with cleansing foods to improve digestion. Yes, my trees and I are all eating nettles, dandelions, and other healthful greens.

The soil is the foundation of all life. When I tend to the foundation, the plants are sturdy and better able to withstand the challenges of pests, fungi, and other diseases.

Each day I tend to my own foundation first. I begin each day with a routine that strengthens me: Ayurvedic self-massage, gentle yoga, breathwork, and meditation. This brings me a sense of peace that grounds me throughout my day. I started doing this last fall after our legal woes ended as a way to rebuild my strength, and now I don’t miss it. It takes some time, but it’s worth it.

Looking at what’s underneath, we can find hidden aspects of ourselves. Recently I came up with an idea for a one-act play…I’ve never written a play before, but why not? Looking underneath, I discovered the need to end a marriage to someone I still cared about because, love or not, it wasn’t a healthy relationship for me. Underneath, where noise and busyness cease, I find a truer self.

I’m hardly perfect at this. Some parts of my yard are overdue for protective mulch, and the weeds are threatening to take over. Some days, despite my best efforts, I am off center or cranky. But each morning, back on my mat again, I start over. I let go. I try again.

Flowers and food are sexier subjects in the garden…but the hidden, what’s underneath, is what really matters.


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