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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Beauty of Soil

Sometimes when I'm watering the garden I am mesmerized by the plant life; the variations of leaf types, stems, pollinating flowers, fruiting bodies. But yesterday my attention was drawn to what was the common denominator in the garden.

At the base of all that living plant matter is soil. Dirt, earth, adamah - in's the carbon based topping of our material planet from which all life springs forth. Look close and it's not just dark brown stuff. It's a complex combination of sand, organic matter, pulverized rock. What G!d used in our creation...soil and the breath...ruach.

As I am breathing in and out, gazing at the soil that is home to our community garden, there is a moment of deep connection;

Shema Israel Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echad

In our community garden Oneness abounds.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pinching Back Plants

Since our amazing garden planting party on June 27th, our new plants have take to strawbale living very nicely. Thanks to our roster of dedicated waterers, our plants are getting that daily dose of H2O they desperately need to survive these hot summer days.

A combination of heat and a fertile place to grow has inspired a few of our herbs to bolt to seed. The talmud teaches that every blade of grass has it's own angel whispering 'grow, grow'. In this case I imagine the plants hearing, ' it hot, maybe time to make flowers and more seed for next year'! In any case, this week it was time to pinch back some of the plants.

Pinching back plants involves your thumb and forefinger placed firmly on a longer leggy stem on the top end of the plant and squeezing it off just under some leaves. This sends a signal to the plant to activate the dormant buds beneath and sets them off resulting in a much bushier plant. In the case of herbs, such as basil, this is a very desireable trait.

I couldn't help thinking of my own growing places as I was conducting this time honoured garden ritual. I found myself recalling times in my life where I had leapt ahead impulsively yearning to get to some new situation or experience...and life pinched me back. Looking back now I have to marvel at the plant's wise reaction and recognize how those experiences forced me to dig deeper, and grow myself wider and more stable. Nobody likes to get pinched...but it's good to know how much stronger we grow through life's little lessons.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Happy Canada Day!

At our recent gathering to plant the Shalom Teaching Garden there was an informal discussion about what to do with the extra spaces left in our garden.

One great suggestion was to plant Nasturiums. There is still time to plant from seed and enjoy this cheery flower with amazing benefits.

Did you know that Nasturiums:

  • are edible with the flowers mildly nutty and the leaves rather peppery?
  • discourage aphids from eating neighbouring plants?
  • have a natural antibiotic property?
  • have seeds and flower buds that can be pickled and are like capers?
Feel free to pick up a pack of Nasturium seeds and plant them around the Shalom Teaching Garden. Consider it a 'random act of beauty' in honour of Canada Day!