Re-growing food from scraps

I am obsessed with gardening.

If you would have told me this was going to happen a year ago, I would have thought you were crazy, but now I’m a freaking gardener and loving every minute. My hands are always dirty, I find my heart skipping a beat every time I see a Home Depot or nursery, and I’m always thinking about my gardens, my kids, and what I can grow next.

Since I now have four gardens I work in,  I have to plan lessons each week and find myself buying plants regularly. I do have a stipend to buy supplies, but I think it’s even cooler to be able to use already existing plants and scraps to re-grow things.

A few weeks ago I planted garlic in one of my gardens and it’s been growing nicely.

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I was blown away that I could plant garlic from one clove. I have been doing research on what can be re-grown and I’m currently experimenting with ginger, celery, basil, and onions. All you really have to do is stick the roots in water or back in the ground and they will grow right back up! Amazing shit and what’s even cooler is that these veggies are staples that are beneficial to health and if eaten regularly, can prevent sickness.

This is the season when everyone is getting sick because of weather changes. Immune systems go haywire. I know mine did. I was getting sick but decided to drug myself with ginger and garlic. I didn’t get full-on sick. I stopped it in its tracks and feel so much better for doing so. I see people around me using drugs like Claritin and Nyquil and it’s just not helpful. Not only will these drugs make you tired, they will also delay the recovery process.

So think twice before you douse yourself with these medicines. The real medicine is the food we eat that’s loaded with natural vitamins essential to our health.

Times are changing and we may just need to know how to feed ourselves when we have no markets or restaurants. We will need to know how to grow our own food, utilizing every source of energy, making natural living a sustainable, viable way of life. This is the direction that truly saves, inspires, re-energizes.

Gardening can teach you this. I was the least likely person to garden, but learning gardening re-enforces sustainable living, a sense of union with the community and kindness and peace within. It can heal. That’s what’s fascinating about using old food scraps. You can grow something out of an organism that we would normally throw away. Everything operates in a cycle. Life, death, rebirth. It’s amazing so think of everything in this way.

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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.

Let it Rain

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Today is my garden Wednesday with the kids. We normally water the entire garden but didn’t today because it looks like it’s going to rain. We are hoping it’s going to rain, especially after giving a lesson to the kids about water conservation on Earth Day!

So we just cleaned the garden of weeds and grass and I planted a new cilantro plant. One of the teachers also gave some interesting information about a natural remedy to cure earaches utilizing the “rue” or “ruda” (in Spanish) plant.

wpid-imag0018.jpgThat plant is STRONG. I like to go around the garden and touch certain plants to get their scent on my fingers. I also encourage the kids to do the same as well and they seem to enjoy it, but we don’t touch the “rue” plant. That thing has a nice smell at first but if you really inhale it, it makes my head get kinda tingly. I’m sure there are some people out there who would probably enjoy that but not me.

My co-workers encouraged me to re-start my compost. I guess I’m a little cautious because last time it got rotten, but maybe now is the time. It’s been over a month now. Time for new beginnings. Just because something didn’t work before doesn’t mean it won’t work if you try again.

Life is always guiding me to where I need to go. Every day more and more I am trusting the process of life and I’m exactly where I am meant to be, learning what I’m meant to learn, loving what and whom I’m meant to love, doing the work I’m meant to be doing, giving back to mother Earth.

Today I am proud to be in service of the universe. Today is a great day to be alive. When the wind blows this way before rain, it feels magical doesn’t it? That’s what is going on here in Los Angeles today.

I hope you are all feeling great love and power today, being connected to the earth on Earth Day.

I pray for rain. Let it rain!