Another metaphoric lesson in gardening: preventing abusive environments

So I was driving home from one of the school gardens I work in, deep in thought about “Figaro,” a certain Fig tree we transplanted last week (The kids gave him that name). I’m often deep in thought after leaving this particular garden because it needs so much work. Since I only visit it once a week, I hate to leave because it’s like my child that I can’t see every day. I can only hope the children and teachers are treating it right in my absence.

When I came to this garden a little over a month ago, I was super overwhelmed by the overgrown grass, weeds, and dead plants. When we started removing the plants and checking out the soil to plant new things, we discovered root maggots! It has definitely been a challenge working with these bugs, to say the least.

I started thinking about soil, how it’s the most important element for all life forms to grow in. Everything starts in the soil and if it’s infected with harmful pests, it can really stunt growth.

I thought of Figaro and wondered if he was experiencing root shock because he came from a very nice garden and the Garden Ranger there only pulled him out to make room for new stuff to grow since they already had two large fig trees growing. Instead of throwing him away, I decided to re-plant him in this particular garden of mine that’s in much need of anything to grow in it.

I imagined Figaro’s tiny roots in new soil and hoped that he wasn’t too scared in this environment. I hoped that I removed enough of the root maggots in previous weeks so that they wouldn’t hurt him. I imagined him like an orphan or foster kid who might get placed in a new home with possibly strange, maggot-like parents/forces that might eat away at his roots/essence.

I began to wonder how many children are born or placed into infested soil and what effect this has on their development.

It’s not their fault. A root maggot didn’t ask to be born, same way as an abuser didn’t ask to be born into a poor home environment.  Everything starts in the soil/home, and if the home is jacked up, can you really expect something healthy to grow?

I began to think of the ways in which we can prevent abusive homes a.k.a. infested/damaging soil so that damaging pests and creatures do not grow and harm our future growing youth. This is what I really stand for, what I really aim to accomplish in my life here on this planet. I want to created places for all living things to grow in healthy, nourishing soil.

It was clear to me today that the solution is in prevention when possible. If the soil is not healthy, we must fix it. It’s never too late. The best way is to prevent conditions in which pests can be born. After doing some research on how to deal with root maggots, it is recommended /suggested that we remove dead plants and rotate them in and out with every changing season. I think this idea of constantly creating/constantly recycling every season, planting certain things like Marigolds and onions that discourage the growth of these pests, is the best way to go.

Pesticide and harmful chemicals is the easy way to deal with problems, much like what this country has done to many of its perpetrators by throwing people in jail or sending them to the electric chair. It doesn’t solve the underlying problem, doesn’t begin to get to the root cause. That’s what our society really needs.

Nobody had been in my garden for many many months and so many things were dead and not growing. When things don’t grow and are not removed, that’s when the flies come and lay their eggs and create the ugly pests that make sure no life can ever grow.

Neglect, lack of knowledge, create these problems. Same things in abusive homes.

Gardening has always shown me so much. Lessons that I need to learn exactly when I need to learn them.

I was a basic gardener early this year, but now that I’m a Garden Ranger, I am the one in charge, the one who decides what we do with our gardens, what we teach our children. I’m the one who has to fix the problems and bring the solutions, rallying the children, teachers, and the community to make this group effort sustainable, flourishing, beautiful. It’s a learning/teaching experience for us all.

The key is to never stop creating, never stop growing. To always keep the cycle of life flowing, we must spend every day caring because who else will?  It’s not a simple solution that can be fixed with one operation, one pill, one treatment of pesticide, with a jail sentence.

Our society needs to care. It’s just as simple as that. This is what we need to be teaching children. This is what children respond to.

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