BE GENTLE WITH THE EARTH
How a person treats their pet when they are alone says a lot about a person’s character as being kind and caring or mean and coercive. Sweet Pea, our 9 year old Rat Terrier, has a strong willed mind of her own which means she can be stubborn. She has tried my soul at times, but she has taught me that my showing her respect, being kind and gentle while being firm, results in her being loving, trusting, and mostly cooperative.
Have you ever considered that how we treat the earth and plants reveals a lot about our character? I grew up on a 60 acre cotton/corn farm in the 1940s. During that time there was a change from farming with mules and horses to the use of tractors. There was also a change, from allowing some land to be fallow and using animal manure for fertilizer, to the intensive use of the land with the use of commercial fertilizers such as anhydrous ammonia for nitrogen. It is a heavier than air toxic gas that is forced into the ground near plants like corn and cotton. The sandy soil on our farm had very little organic matter in it. The use of the commercial fertilizers produced good crops for a while but left the soil sterile. Much of the farm land in the United States has been treated this way for generations along with the use of herbicides and pesticides. The consequences of this systemic pattern is the mistreatment of the land, the air, plants, and human beings for now and long into the future. Greed and apathy are common human temptations as well as being deadly sins.
In the 1920s, Martin Buber wrote a book in German (translated in English) entitled I and Thou. Each person is to be viewed with “unconditional positive regard”. The opposite of “I-Thou” is an “I-it” view where all other persons and things are objects to be used and discarded.
The spiritually sensitive primitive man experienced a tree more as a “Thou” than as an ‘It’.
For these past ten years I have nurtured the soil in my 54’ x 30’ garden. I have brought in 13 cubic yards of clay to help hold moisture and I added sulfur to balance the PH. Twice a year I have added 4-6 inches of compost to each of the seven rows. Before I plant anything, I add organic fertilizers, trace minerals, and composted chicken manure. I till these in with a small tiller so as to not disturb the webs of soil microbes too much. After plants are up, I use the Spray-N-Grow blend plus LMC drenching. I have used a hoe as well as got on my knees to pull weeds and grass before and after planting. I get on my knees to gather tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, and other produce. My garden rewards my care with abundance of experiential beauty and delicious food plus health giving exercise.
On my garden gate is a plaque that reminds me daily, “Be Gentile With the Earth!”