Continual evidence that “I am not in control”

Month 1/12 "Wisdom from Weeding series"

At least once a month I indulge in weeding. Indulge? Yes, although my back and finger nails are humiliated, weeding our vast home garden provides me time to not just assure the success of my valued plants, but to relearn valuable lessons. In many ways it’s better than hiking, yoga or going to church because in addition to getting some physical exercise and sunshine, I get grounded. Thus, once a month in all humility I will blog about one or more of my many reflections while weeding.

We start with the most important revelation of all, “I am not in control.”

No matter how much we plan, water, fertilize, trim and weed – what ever happens with the weather and the vitality of living things determines what grows.  Unquestionably, there is a master creator.  I’m just the gardener; the caretaker while we are blessed to live in a home with a vast yard.

What’s my evidence?

  1. Rain water is far superior to any water I add. My watering helps, especially in drought, but what really makes things grow is a hard rain which I can’t control at all.
  2. Every year, no matter what I do; drought, floods and pests (diseases and bugs including slugs) kill one of more of my favorites, despite due diligence on my part.
  3. Some plants, no matter what I do, are amazingly productive. We have a rose bush that keeps going and going – Never stops producing flowers…all I really do is keep trimming it back. I rarely water our 3 big pines and the majority of our bougainvillea, yet they are constantly green and growing well.
  4. Weeds, in all shapes, sizes and hardiness, continue to thrive. Despite weeding, pest control, and nurturing my chosen plants the best I can, if I stopped everything I do, the weeds will take over. Yes, a few plants like our pines, maybe my rosebush, will survive, but the weeds will dominate. Over time weeds – not my plants will hold the soil, flower year after year, and they provide oxygen so badly needed by earthlings: I’m just the short-term gardener, blessed with caring for beautiful living things.

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3 thoughts on “Continual evidence that “I am not in control”

  1. Great post! I consider weeding and gardening a form of meditation (most of the time!).

    You struck on something inherently important about weeds – that they provide services to our gardens, like holding soil. Generally, we call plants “weeds” when they are not what we planted, have popped up unexpectedly, out-compete our plants, or don’t appear to have any useful value. We become more prone to using chemicals to rid ourselves of these “weeds.” Those chemicals (herbicides) may attack weeds but may also leave residuals in our garden plants that our families consume. If your are concerned about chemicals in/on your food plants or want an organic garden then you either have to prepare yourself for the grunt work of manual removal or come to some level of friendly accommodation with your “weeds.”

    However, some weeds, or what we call weeds have additional benefits. There are common weeds that are actually food plants; to identify them might take a local master gardner or some individual research. It is useful to identify any such weeds – so you can make an educated decision about whether to remove them en masse or restrict their growth to certain non-garden areas. If you have a friend who is a master gardener, a plant biologist, a la`au lapa`au, or someone from UH College of Tropical Agriculture – invite them over to check out, not just your yard but also any surrounding wild areas for “weeds” that might be edible or otherwise useful to your garden and landscaping.

  2. My grandmother amazed me by her ability to make things grow. I always thought I couldn’t do the same because I lacked the “green thumb”. I had visions of growing bountiful gardens, but always fell short and ended up discouraged. I didn’t have the patience, nor did I make the effort to learn by observing nature. This changed for the better over four years ago when my grandson was born. I received a kalo plant as a gift from my friend’s yard. I put the pot in a sunny spot that got ample rain and paid little attention to it. A year later, as his 1st birthday approached, I noticed it still sitting in the pot, not growing, but not dead either. I was struck by the significance of the plant and how it just lingered. I had a conversation with that kalo. Although I appreciate and connect with nature, I can say I never communed with a specific plant before. I thanked that little kalo for persisting despite my neglect, and promised to find a suitable place in the yard and tend to it going forward if it would only live and grow. I planted it right there on the spot. The next day, it looked wilted and my heart sank. I sat there feeling defeated yet determined to keep hoping that things would turn around. I added lots of water and another coating of soil. I sat there for a time, and focused on what the garden would look like in a week when my grandson’s birthday finally arrived. I envisioned a thriving kalo garden that I could make poi for his first food in 4 to 5 months. The next morning, I came out to add water and lo and behold, a little mahola leaf was uncurling along the ha. A week later, there were more leaves and another oha, or corum bud, growing. My spirits were uplifted and I will never forget how much that kalo plant taught and continues to teach me. Lessons about patience, perseverance, hope, and faith. I have since been able to feed my family from my little garden and continue to grow and incorporate new vegetables into our meals.