What Seeds Are You Planting?

Every year I coax myself through winter by devouring the garden catalog from Silver Heights Farm in Cochecton Center, New York. Trina nurtures an amazing variety of things that I can transplant as seedlings every spring to get a jumpstart on my vegetable garden. While there are some things that come up best from seeds like beans and carrots, my wooded lot (and my personal dearth of patience) just doesn’t offer me enough sunshine to grow tomatoes and peppers from seed before fall comes. In my many years of backyard gardening, I have learned some lessons, such as if I plant carrots, I can’t expect to harvest oranges, so I think carefully about what I want to harvest when I decide what to plant. With the vagaries of climate in our area, it also means I am quick to decide what’s a weed and to firmly yank it out by the roots.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed the spread of a really invasive weed throughout the county I live in. I had only read about it taking root in other parts of the country, but I’ve started to see signs of it here. It seems to be spreading and showing up in places I hadn’t seen it before. I recognized it as the genus “Blame” and I realized that it wasn’t staying confined to its own family like most plants do. Nope, this one was definitely a weed and it was move stealthily from one yard to another and its roots were crowding out healthier growth throughout the county.

A neighbor mentioned it at a coffee shop. She said to the man she was sitting with in the booth behind mine, “Why didn’t Somebody do something?” I knew I shouldn’t eavesdrop, but I realized she was the third person that day who had made reference to this insidious rot of blame. I knew that blame grows wildly in the shade of denial and that it was spreading across the country and was now threatening the gardens and forests of my community.

I had been reading about this invader in the paper for many months. “Why didn’t Somebody do something to stop the banks from making all those mortgages?” For heaven’s sake, why didn’t Somebody do something to stop the nuclear meltdown in Japan! Somebody ought to figure out how we can avoid cutting back on services without raising taxes. It seemed like everywhere I went, people were looking for a mysterious weed-killer to deploy against this kudzu-like duo of denial and blame that had crept into our conversations, robbing us of the fruits of our labors.

Everyone seemed to wonder why the manufacturers weren’t issuing more of this Somebody that they could sprinkle on the problems they faced like some kind of magic cure to bring this black rot of irresponsibility under control. I started to wonder if individually we aren’t each the “Somebody” we’re searching for.

I supposed the blame and denial had taken root because maintaining the gardens of our lives is hard work, especially when we’re maintaining the common ground of a community. In many ways, it’s just easier to hope that spraying on some nebulous “Somebody” will make everything fine when we’re ready to harvest our share. But that head-in-the-sand approach allows the weeds to take over and pretty soon it’s hard to find the dreams we thought we had planted. I want to harvest friendship and prosperity from the safety of this common ground and I want to take pleasure in sharing that labor and that bounty with my neighbors.

In tending this plot of land we share, I am diligent to make sure that no one is spraying RoundUp on it as a way to keep the weeds of blame under control. Pesticides like anger kill everything it is sprayed on – weed and vegetable alike. Blame needs to be pulled up by the roots and we all need to be careful not to accidentally tote the seeds of blame to someone else’s home. That means mindfully disposing of rumor and using the bright light of personal accountability to clean our tools before digging in anyone else’s dirt.

Fruitful gardens benefit from composting – it can turn leftovers and yard waste into rich organic matter. Unlike MiracleGro, which gives a quick, but short lived burst of blooms, doing the work to enrich the soil makes for long-lasting, healthy growth and delicious, satisfying results. I personally suggest using your hands to turn together in your own yard equal parts of responsibility, selfless effort and humility. When we each bring together the products of that effort and moisten it with a shower of kindness, we will be amazed by how fertile our common ground is.

No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. What we plant in the months ahead will ensure a bountiful harvest for our community. It’s amazing what one seed can grow.






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