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Back Issues

Avant-Gardening Tid-Bytes Newsletter - Back Issues 2006

December 2006
Raising a Guest Nest

It seems as if the pace of daily life quickens this time of year. There is much to do - cleaning up debris, checking again on the woodpile to evaluate the coming winter’s toll.

Recent warm days allowed clean sailing through a list of “needs to be done” but there is that feeling of winter drifting in the wind telling you that you are at the edge of dropping off into the deeper, freezing chasm that won’t thaw until spring.

One thing to do was to attend the second annual seed exchange/potluck. As in years past, there were free seeds saved from varieties known to perform well in this area. There were boards with photographs of people’s gardens, and on tables were lists of seed varieties known to produce well locally, information on composting, and other literature of local gardening interest.

Almost everyone there was involved someway in the Ramah Farmers Market. Speakers ranged from a couple who grow specifically for the market, to those growing medium to small gardens. We spoke about the “Greenzbox” we tried this year, and how simple it was to do, and how effective it is for high altitude gardening.

A couple from Albuquerque liked the idea because they didn’t know where all the utility lines were buried, didn’t want to take a chance digging below ground, and were excited about just being able to build it on the ground.

Another thing on our list was to start building a little “guest nest” a few hundred feet away from the Hogan. We were expecting the arrival of some dear friends whom we hadn’t seen in a couple of years. We had just framed and sheathed the first wall when we heard the crunch of car tires on the gravel. We nailed as fast as we could, but were three nails short of completion when they pulled into the driveway and stopped in front of us.

We had been working hard, so this interlude with friends was well timed. We all sat around, talking and reminiscing, and had a great organic dinner with turkey, cranberry sauce, dressing, gravy, a Greenzbox salad with kale, spinach, chard and lettuce, and rhubarb pie for dessert. The next morning we met at an eatery down the road a few miles for breakfast, climbed to the top of “El Morro”, a nearby national monument, and peered down into walled rooms that were home to over 1,100 Anazazi more than 800 years ago.

In the distance from the very top and looking to the west, we could just make out where our home was on the edge of a tree line. We descended and went back to our Hogan. We had put in the final 3 nails after they arrived; the wall was now ready for raising. We had raised it by ourselves a bit off the floor earlier and could feel by the weight that we would need an extra hand or two. With all hands lifting, the wall stood upright, was nailed, and secured.

It was only after we had hugged and waved goodbye that the experience the four of had shared in raising the first wall of the “guest nest” stirred us. Echo’s of pioneers working together in cooperation gave a quality to a simple act that, had we done it alone, would have been lacking.

Like the beginning leaves on a new seedling sprout, this first wall symbolizes a potential for the future of those who visit.

Around the world walls of exclusion are being erected by hands all too willing to help create division. Instead, let our hands help put up walls of welcome for those who seek unity. Segmentation and separation will not bring forth the fruits of spirit.

It will be by sharing our seeds of knowledge planted deep within the heart that will eventuate into a crop of guest nests that will grow.

November 2006
Sublimating Vapor

The clean, evenly cut firewood was neatly in-between four metal t-posts, two on each end, set about 16 inches apart. There were glances of appreciation given by those who were with us. Earlier that morning, we too had cut and split some juniper and stacked it on the porch near the front door.

People’s woodpiles increase with the heaviness of the morning’s frost. In the winter design, firewood is a local motif, the first of the many that develop as the cold winter progresses.

Being used, and reused, juniper fence posts have a longevity of usefulness. We took apart the old and rebuilt a new coyote fence made out of old juniper posts previously used as a windbreak at our old garden site. We rebuilt the fence to define our new parking area, not only creating a safety barrier for a drop off, but also creating a backdrop for the new gardens planted below it.

Wood comes into play even more in our lives as we just finished a 16’ x 20’ carport, built with split western red cedar - old telephone poles that were used years ago before the milled and treated pine poles that are used today.

We had a 20’ x 40’ tarp we had previously used to cover firewood, so we were able to go over the top of the carport and cover two of the sides. The overhanging sides were rolled up in battens and nailed to the poles at the bottom.

The carport stops the increasing frost on the car windshield that gets harder to scrape off as mornings get colder.

Even though we have had several lows of 19 degrees, we still have greens, herbs, and hardy perennials growing in beds lined with thick stones, absorbing the heat during the day and radiating enough heat at night to prevent any frost damage.

Frost is formed when water vapor goes directly from a vaporous state to a solid state. This process is called sublimation, and depends upon the loss rate of energy. Water vapor is in a higher energy state than liquid water, and liquid water is in a higher energy state than solid water (ice).

These different stages of cooling are called the dew point temperature (when the temperature is above freezing), and the frost point temperature (when the temperature is below freezing). The amount of moisture in the air determines when condensation, or sublimation, will be produced.

Black frost is formed when the temperature falls below freezing after dew has formed.

Two other types of frost are rime and hoar. Rime frost is common during fogs, where super-cooled air comes in contact with subfreezing surfaces. This form of frost is opaque and has a grainy appearance that forms spikes, or needles. It does not have a recognizable crystal structure and is harder and denser than hoar frost.

Hoar frost generally forms when winds are light and the night is clear and cold. Growing from an initial seed of ice, hoar frost gives us shapes of feathers, ferns, or flower patterns that we are most familiar with, especially in non-mountainous areas. It forms first on glass and metal surfaces, materials that radiate heat quickly and therefore cool quickly.

When frost begins to spread to the ground, it starts in the lowest regions. Once ice crystals have formed, further frost accumulation may proceed by the depositing of water vapor directly on the ice already formed. When the temperatures are colder, water vapor is deposited directly on a surface through a process called deposition.

A.N. Whitehead wrote that, “Life is an offensive, directed against the repetitious mechanisms of the universe”. Just as frost surrounds us in potential, waiting for the right conditions to sublimate and appear in a changed form, so do we exist in a climate of expectation, waiting for conditions that will, once ripe, bring about an entelechy of higher aspirations.

And, like hoar frost that appears suddenly, we will change the state in which we live, spread across the land, and grow.

October 2006
Gardening the Unus Mundus

Our first frost descended on September 18th, and was followed by four successive nights of early morning temperatures below 28 degrees. The zucchinis we could not eat enough of, suddenly were no more a problem with their now blackened, crisp leaves, so we harvested the last of their small fruits. The cayenne peppers in among the herbs and flowers were also picked and the remains of the plants were pulled up for the compost bin.

Growing in large pots on the deck were cucumbers climbing up one of the posts, tomatoes, and Poblano peppers. They were also blackened. We removed them from the deck, harvested the rest of their fruits, and set them aside.

The shade cloth covering our 4’ x 8’ Greenzbox® kept the frost from settling on the kale, chard, spinach, lettuce and beets. Knowing that only colder weather was in the future, we harvested large bags of greens for friends, and still had plenty left for salads and steamed greens in the future. The shade cloth covering our 4’ x 8’ Greenzbox® kept the frost from settling on the kale, chard, spinach, lettuce and beets. Knowing that only colder weather was in the future, we harvested large bags of greens for friends, and still had plenty left for salads and steamed greens in the future.

The most interesting aspect of the year’s gardening in the Greenzbox® was the growth of spinach. During the annual Ramah area garden tour in July, we showed our spinach plants to one of our accomplished local gardeners. We noted how big the leaves were, and that they were the same plants we had put in the Greenzbox® in the spring. The shade cloth had prevented them from bolting. In New Mexico, spinach is the first plant to bolt in the hot sun, and yet we are still picking spinach from these same plants.

To help formalize the fish pond we put in this summer, we made a terraced raised bed on one side of the bricks laid around the pond. Then we put compost on top of the sandstone and planted catmint which grows exceedingly well in this area.

Because of construction time constraints, our decorative beds containing parsley, tarragon, dill, mint, and other culinary herbs and perennial flowers had not been amended. But as with most first year gardens, there were enough nutrients to make things grow well. In one of the beds, rhubarb was planted in a mixture of steer manure and potting soil.

When we emptied the large plastic pots we used for growing peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes on the deck, their roots were holding the organic potting soil tightly together. We used a long blade hunting knife to cut them into slices about 2” thick, starting at the bottom.

The reason we decided to make slices was just the fact that they were too hard to break apart and crumble into the beds. When were trying to use the knife to get them apart, the blade went down through and a nice even slice separated and fell off.

We cut some of the rounds in half and placed around them around the edges of the beds, flat side out, providing water containment and mulch. Other slices were broken into smaller pieces and used for mulch.

By recycling the soil and roots, which will break down this winter, we like to think we are on the edge of practicality.

The manifestation of unconscious products within a conscious activity is an element of spontaneity, and in this situation the slices were an example of synchronicity.

Victor Mansfield points out that in Jungian synchronicity, such events bridge psyche and matter, the garden and the unus mundas, wherein “synchronicity experience, meaning is the critical point.” Inasmuch as we needed more soil, the slices became a form of acausal orderedness that was given to us from the unus mundas, the domain of unified potentiality, the collective unconsciousness.

There is a creative application in planting a seed, one that reaches beyond us as personal beings. The life germ that awakens and presents itself as a sprout, gives us an integrative knowledge that deepens our capacities of consciousness. The garden exhibits and avails principles accessible to everyone as a collective understanding of the worlds we share.

There is a reality that hovers over surface events. It is incubated in the mind and birthed by our own hands into an experience that sends roots deep into the unexplored “ocean of energy” that will someday feed and transform a world that we will grow.

September 2006
Garden Hives

The rains that have eluded this area in past summers have been constant company the last two months. Other New Mexico cities had problems with flooding as did lower elevation communities in areas that hadn’t seen water like this in years.

Rural areas experienced problems with one and two lane dirt roads that allow people access to highway 53. Some roads became too muddy to drive on, some washed out completely leaving deep, v shaped trenches while others were stripped of their gravel as water washed down from the mesa tops in a torrent, washing across the road leaving humps of sand gathering on the exposed sandstone and bedrock.

The rains have not only produced an abundance of vegetables for the local farmers market, but fields are filled with sunflowers that carpet the valley floors intermingled with patches of purple, red, and white wildflowers.

This new found beauty holds observers in a wondering state, not having this scene in recent memory. The Gramma grass, growing knee high in waves of purple, prompts old timers to say that the snow this winter will be as high as the Gramma grass, and how many inches of rain pervade every conversation.

In the spring, when we start seeds in trays using a heating mat, seedlings emerge from the soil within just a few days. The garden at its maturity supersedes the collective of seeds that were in the trays. Each plant has emerged as part of a whole garden pattern, and no matter how well imagined, the pattern will not be visible until completed.

This collective growing process is a common natural phenomenon, an instinctive grouping mechanism in life cycles, much like a hive of honey bees. Individual bees make up a hive that is integrated for the all of the bees in the community, the workers, the drones, and the queen. The identity of the bee hive is carried through memory. According to Kevin Kelly, one speck of a honey bee brain has a memory of six days, whereas the hive as a whole has a memory of three months, twice as long as the average bee life. This collective thought is called the “hive mind”, and is the continuation medium. When a colony gets too crowded or becomes weak, it will swarm. Honeybee swarms are an instinctive part of the annual life cycle of a bee colony, providing a mechanism for the colony to reproduce itself and grow.

Each garden can be thought of as a vegetable hive. The garden’s continuation medium is the genetic memory in each annual, biennial, or perennial variety as it merges into the pattern of the whole garden.

The marvel of the “hive mind” is that, no one is in control, and yet an invisible hand governs. The same invisible hand that governs the hive, is the hand that tells the gardener when to plant and when to harvest. And, just as there is nothing in the bee hive that can’t be found in the bee, there is nothing in the seed that can’t be found in the garden and the gardener. Each is part of a vivisystem greater than the individual.

One day enough garden hives will reach the point where we will need to swarm, and the invisible hand will move us toward a higher and greater purpose, and once there, as our new seeds are planted, we will grow.

August 2006

Lately our household watchword has been “eat more salad”, not because of the obvious health benefits of growing our own organic food, but because there is so much coming out of the garden. Our 4’ x 9’, 2½ foot deep raised bed growing area contains four kinds of kale, three varieties of chard, a row of Chantenay carrots, Cylindra beets, spinach, lettuces, and arugula.

Scattered around the east side of our house are some ornamental beds with zucchini, culinary herbs, and rhubarb tucked in here and there among perennials. In large containers sitting on the south east edges of the deck are Poblano peppers, several varieties of tomatoes, kale, and cilantro. Sugar snap peas and butternut squash climb up the poles on outside edge of the covered porch in front of our door along with the morning glories.

This is the smallest garden we have had. Our raised bed is filled with previous year’s compost, and covered with shade cloth stretched over a 4 foot high framework that is screwed to the sides of the bed to provide protection from the intense New Mexico sun. This allows plenty of headroom to lean in and gather greens, water, and weed.

The bed runs north/south and is protected from the hot afternoon sun by an area of small trees to the west. We open the east side every morning for direct sun until about noon. Then the shade cloth on top provides the needed shade until the sun falls behind the trees in the hot late afternoon.

The biggest change we noticed from using the shade cloth is the size and tenderness of the plants. Benefiting from the coolness, they are giving us giant, tender leaves that just melt in your mouth.

The word change comes from the Latin “Cambire” meaning to exchange, trading one thing for another. The idea of using shade cloth in our previous gardens had always been in the back of our minds, we had talked about it, but the size of the gardens presented obstacles that we were unwilling to deal with at the time.

Recently, the Smithsonian magazine ran an article on the production of a new form of recyclable plastic made from corn called polylactic acid (PLA). This resin is to be used for forming containers and other packaging of consumer goods. It is known as a “principle compostable”, meaning it will break down into harmless natural compounds.

At present, conventional plastics take up 25% of the volume of materials sent to dumps. They also use an estimated 200,000 gallons of oil in a day for their production.

Within the article, the carping ran from the fact that PLA would not break down in a home composting operation, to complaints that PLA would interfere with conventional composting because it needed more oxygen than present systems have.

The production of PLA uses 65% less energy and generates 68% fewer greenhouse gasses than the production of the more common polyethylene terephthalate (PET) found in the ubiquitous soda pop bottle.

One would think that these pluses alone would cause immediate cheers and changes. But, as with most change, there is a reluctance to exchange one thing for another, no matter what the benefits might be.

We believe most people desire beneficial changes for the world, but often feel impotent from the smallness of our individual actions. Growing food commercially by agri-businesses represent a field of concerns: genetic diversity, organics, packaging, transportation, and individual responsibility.

The first corn plastic was made around 20 years ago at a cost of $200 a pound. Then, Patrick and Sally Gruber, both chemists, created a prototype PLA product on their kitchen stove at a cost of less than $1 a pound.

Sometimes the anxiety of change is that it will never arrive. This feeling can cause people to give up whatever they are doing toward beneficial change. It is persistence of an idea that keeps it alive until conditions are right, and then its implementation becomes a success.

Many paths in the same direction will eventually meet, and from these well established roots the world will grow.

July 2006
Celebrating Fruits

The other night we received a phone call from an old friend in Idaho. Eventually the talk turned to our gardens. He was excited to tell us that he had eaten the first squash from his garden for dinner that evening, and we were able to tell him that we had just eaten the first salad from our garden.

First fruits seem to hold a greater sentiment for us than when the garden hits full production and the salads and squashes become daily fare.

The past winter that froze our memory of taste is suddenly thawed by those first fruits - greens, squash, or the first Poblano pepper we harvested from a container sitting on the deck.

These first fruits from the garden help us put the world in scale. No longer is our food tied so tightly to sources outside of our control.

Our first salad was raised in compost sifted from a couple of aged piles, leftovers from the growth of the other years gardens, and the good deep green color of our seedlings show that there is plenty of nitrogen to insure steady healthy growth.

The earth’s atmosphere is composed of about 80% nitrogen, more than we could use in a lifetime. But in order for nitrogen atoms, which are all tightly bonded, to be of use for our plants they must be separated and joined with hydrogen atoms. We rejoice when rainstorms with lightening break this bond and attach nitrogen to hydrogen atoms which results in “fertilized rain”.

Until 1909, available nitrogen was produced either by animal manure, lightening, or by leguminous plants like peas or alfalfa, which can take nitrogen atoms from the air and “fix” them into useful molecules by soil bacteria living in their roots. Without available nitrogen, life cannot assemble amino acids, proteins, or nucleic acids. An average human body contains almost a kilo of nitrogen.

Fritz Haber, a German Jewish chemist, first discovered how to take nitrogen from the air and produce fixed nitrogen by a process of heat and pressure produced by electricity.

Synthetic nitrogen, ammonium nitrate, became popular after WWII when it was used as a chemical fertilizer for farming instead of explosives for war. Once produced commercially, it became the darling of mega-farms who no longer had to use animal manures to provide nitrogen for their crops. The crop that garners the greatest application is corn, using more than half of all synthetic nitrogen produced.

Corn is used to produce everyday items we that we don’t usually think of: linoleum, fiberglass, color in processed foods, joint compounds, and, of course, high fructose corn syrup.

More chemical nitrogen is applied to crops than they can use, and the excess evaporates into the air, acidifying rain, and contributing to global warming. Or it seeps into ground water, streams, and rivers, ending up in the Gulf of Mexico where it stimulates algae growth to the point of smothering fish and creating a “hypoxic zone” that is now as large as New Jersey, and still growing.

For now, our celebrations are with old friends, new friends, organic foods, and a hope of new directions in which we will grow.

June 2006
Spreading Growth

Try as we will, we are not able to stop growing plants and making gardens. We have been able to reduce the number of plants considerably, but they continue to appear as if by magic, popping up in rock gardens and containers on the deck.

It’s as if spring mornings have switched on an auto-gardening relay to our brains, and suddenly we find ourselves with shovels, rakes, and trowels in our hands, digging, sifting compost, fertilizing, and transplanting seedlings from seed trays that just sort of filled up with soil and were planted with seeds.

At times it seems like we are performing invisible activities and the results are stumbled upon during our daily routines.

Gardening has been a life routine for us for 30 years, and the necessities entailed in the process are second nature to us, one that appears with increasing daylight and then disappears with its decline.

In 1976, Richard Dawkins, a British zoologist, introduced a concept that refers to a “Unit of Cultural Information.” This theory uses the term “meme” when addressing the transfer of an idea, concept, or practice, verbally or by demonstration, from one mind to another.

For the most part, demonstration is the method of transferring a meme. Transferring the benefits of gardening by demonstration does not mean that one must give lessons. What we see often unconsciously transfers to our beliefs.

Just as our genes turn on and off impulses that control chemicals in the body, so do memes turn on and off ideas and concepts in our minds.

In our bodies, once these chemicals are created, they join in the changing of the body’s needs to aid in the perpetuation of physical life. The meme, once transferred, also takes on a life of its own in the mind of the one in whom it was transplanted.

Like the process of gardening, it is akin to popping out a plug from a seed tray and transplanting it into a garden setting, where it will become part of something larger, giving influence to the whole.

My mother has a Crown of Thorns plant that is over 50 years old, and whenever she watered it, I could feel in her care, a joy of association. It winds, spirals, and twists with new green tips showing all over, entertaining to the eye and satisfying to the soul. One of the results of this meme transfer is the desire to plant gardens, grow in containers on the deck, and take care of house plants.

In 1995, Iaccomo Rizzolati of the University of Parma discovered what have become known as “mirror neurons.” The group of mirror neurons that fire in our brains are the same group as those that fire in the brain of the one we are observing, and therefore allow us to directly understand the meaning of actions and emotions of others through an internal neural replication of those events.

We do not need objective reasoning to understand, because through the mirror neurons we are able to have a direct simulation linking us to that other person. When someone sees us caring for our plants, they gain and grow from our joy and appreciation by association.

The purpose of osmosis is to diffuse from one part to another and produce a commonality or equalization. By a caring demonstration of our plants and gardens, we establish a mental osmosis within others.

Once this nurturing concept has been transplanted, those who see it have this information in the garden of their minds to use in beautifying and enhancing the garden of the world.

Thus the seeds from a single caring demonstration can be spread to others who will understand and feel this intention to grow.

May 2006
Moebius Moments

It is always tempting at this time of year to try and get a jump on the growing season. But after some rational thought, past experience prevails and delays the heartbreak of planting too early and being hit with a late frost.

Our garden this year will be a rectangle formed from stacked logs and filled with the compost of past years piles.

We have now moved up the hillside into our Hogan where flat areas are hard to find, and the deep bedrock of sandstone protrudes, giving no chance for cultivation. We are beginning again in a new area with new conditions and a slightly warmer micro-climate.

For this first year’s garden we will limit it to the most utilitarian for our diets – culinary herbs, carrots, beets, butternut squash to store for the winter, and salad greens. We will trellis the butternut squash on hog wire to prevent damage to leaves and save space, and use the shade behind them for the spinach and lettuces which appreciate shade in the hot afternoons.

This month we had a workshop on organic gardening. Among the participants were eight Native Americans from the Pueblo of Acoma. There were two adults and six students from high school - all part of the Acoma Boys and Girls Club.

The topic of traditional growing methods came up and they said that they were attending the workshop because draught and culture changes had effected growing the conditions so much that a new approach was needed – one that incorporated both the knowledge of their Elders and modern gardening methods.

In 1855 August Ferdinand Möbius, a German mathematician (1790-1868), discovered what has come to be known as the Möbius Strip. It is created by taking a paper strip and giving it a half-twist and merging the ends together to form a single strip. One of the almost magical properties it possesses is that when cut down the middle along a line parallel to its edge, instead of getting two strips, it becomes one long strip with two half-twists. More cuttings produce exotic figures with names like paradromic rings and trefoil knot http://mathworld.wolfram.com/TrefoilKnot.html

Its most imaginative feature was demonstrated by M.C. Escher in a lithograph showing a line of ants crawling on the surface of a Möbius strip, some on the outside of the strip and some on the inside – but all on the same path.http://scidiv.bcc.ctc.edu/Math/Mobius.html

The seasons of the year also promote a Möbius strip behavior in that, while on the same path of pursuit, we are sometimes inside and sometimes outside on the path. At this time of year we approach the twist that takes us from the inside to the outside.

Seedlings yearn to get out of their containers and into the ground, an urge shared with the gardener. The bend of winter has led us into the bend of spring. As we each move along the path of our strip we share knowledge gathered along the way, and together we grow.

April 2006
Sound Growth

Our moisture for the winter finally arrived this March with a couple of snow storms that blew through, leaving everyone with various depths of accumulation, depending upon where they lived. The deepest was about 2 ½ feet along the Zuni Mountains to the north of us. The winds sweep up the side of the range and then drop the moisture at the base.

Water is of concern to all people in all places, but it is even more valued in naturally dry areas. With the global-warming-shifting-weather patterns, this area has been experiencing a drought for the last 9 years. Drought has been cited as a cause in the disappearance of large groups of ancient peoples in the southwest, who built sizable communities and then suddenly abandoned them.

The history of water on earth extends back over 4 billion years to the accretion of water from comets and hydrous asteroids. 70% of the earth’s surface is water, 80% of fruits and vegetables is water, and H2O is the most recognized chemical code.

Hydration of our bodies is as important as the hydration of our plants.

On an average, 2.5 liters of water escape our bodies each day, 65% in urine and feces, 20% through our skin, and 15% through our lungs. We can remember from school the diagrams and arrows showing the water cycle of evaporation, precipitation, and run off.

The 2003 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded for the discovery of the aquaporin, a tiny passageway into a cell that allows only one molecule of water at a time to enter, even though the cell is surrounded by water.

When a cell hydrates, it triggers an anabolic phase of building and repair that helps keep us healthy. The transfer of water dissolves nutrients, removes waste and toxins, and activates cellular energy.

For every molecule of protein in the human body, there are 10,000 water molecules, more water than is needed for each cell, or that can be dealt with at one time.

We might also remember diagrams showing how “Structural Matching” is necessary for two molecular objects to exchange information and activate a needed response. This molecular interaction, sometimes called the Key/Keyhole Model, according to current theory, happens as a random collision on a trial and error basis.

J. Benveniste suggests that instead, electromagnetic signals traveling through the body’s water, are what really activate specific functions. These signals are low frequency (<20khz) electromagnetic waves, much like those used by submarines for communication, since megahertz frequencies do not penetrate water.

Every atom of every molecule emits a specific frequency. Specific frequencies of water molecules can be detected at distances of billions of light years by radio telescopes. Water can carry and amplify communication between corresponding molecules to bring about desired chemical productions.

The topic of memory in water has been explored for decades; memory not as consciousness, but as leftover “imprints,” influences in the form of electrical information or electromagnetic waves that can affect the flow of information through the water’s molecular structure.

Dr. Masaru Emoto takes this even further in his book, “The Message from Water,” claiming that water reflects the composite energies being sent to it by restructuring the molecules into crystalline structures resulting in either “positive” or “negative” formations. Water not only has the ability to reflect the environment but it also can be affected by the quality of our intentions and thoughts.

The quality life thus depends upon the signals exchanged between molecules. This co-resonance is much like a transmitter and a radio - we can hear the message when we are tuned into the frequency.

Our lives exist within a water cycle that flows in and out of our bodies, our plants, and our earth, and if we listen and co-resonate, we will grow.

March 2006

The other day we were asked to contribute one sentence for a magazine about how we felt toward that local intentional community. The limitation made us think hard as to what we really felt and the results of our now 8 year relationship with them. The base word of community is from the Latin commum meaning serviceable or obliging.

A community is a work of art, including a wide range of diverse elements making the work a living and progressive organism moving towards group ideals.

The community is first made up of individuals who associate and strive for the betterment of the life of its members. Exclusion of any element leaves the goal incomplete, lacking fulfillment of each individual’s dreams. The larger the element left out, the fewer the fulfilling aspects.

In this part of New Mexico, we live in a predominately juniper-pinon tree community, along with Ponderosa pine at the higher altitudes. One seldom finds a pinon or a juniper growing alone. Generally they grow touching and often grow within each others branches. Their tenaciousness is evidenced by trees growing out of the thinnest of cracks in sandstone and the lava fingers that crept out from volcanic vents miles away.

Down the road to the east is El Malpais National Monument. The early Spanish explorers named it El Malpais, or “The Bad Country.” It has also been called a poor man’s Hawaii because of all the various types of lava that can be found. Here too grow pinon and juniper sending roots deep into lava cracks. The El Malpais area is also one of the top 5 tree-ring sites in the world; the oldest Rocky Mountain Douglas Fir was found here - it sprouted in the year 1062, four years before the Norman Invasion.

A sub-community within the pinon/juniper is the Gambel oak. The Gambel Oak and Gambel Quail were named after William Gambell, a naturalist and ornithologist. They range from 4,500-7,500 feet and are often found mixed in with Ponderosa. They have been a food source for indigenous peoples for thousands of years. Acorns are high in protein, carbohydrates, and calcium. Oaks hybridize in nature, so new species are continually being discovered.

At the beginning of fall, when in other parts of the country leaves of deciduous trees are losing their green and changing to reds, yellows, purples, and oranges, the oak leaves at this altitude just turn a yellow/brownish color.

When the sun begins it’s decline, and temperatures drop below freezing, a signal is sent to the tree telling that it is time to stop producing food with its chlorophyll and allow a blend of pigments that have been present and patient all year, carotene and xanthophyll, to be activated and change the leaf color, stopping the need for water during the winter months when it is frozen and inaccessible.

Our larger community is enriched by the many sub-communities following the seasons, hybridizing, and carrying forward traits and roots from an ancient time, that push deep into the social bedrock, and once secure, grow.

February 2006
Residents Resonance

The other night we attended a friend’s evening of performance art. A defining rhythm was beaten out on a large cottonwood base drum using double drumsticks. We were entertained with costumes, poetry, humor, philosophy, spirituality, and music. Seating was on floor pillows, couches, and chairs placed in front of a carefully designed set, lighted to set it apart from the rest of the room. This performance synchronized the evening with conviviality and cake.

Entrainment is when the vibrations of one person cause the vibrations of another person to oscillate at the same rate.

Specialization in society has fragmented the perception of a personal effectiveness by making the individual a member of an ever diminishing coterie, much in the same way as a gardener can only feed a few people at a local farmers market as opposed to the many that pass through a supermarket chain store.

Aside from the taste, freshness, and the nutrition of locally grown food, there is an economy of resources that is passed on to those in the immediate area and to those living miles away.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, “The American meal travels an average of 2000 miles from farm to plate.” This means that the average consumer, in eating a months worth of meals, has his food shipped the equivalent of around the equator twice. And, the more market’s provide eating “out of season,” the greater the use and pollution of the world’s resources.

This complexity usually leads to thoughts of “overpopulation,” and “how can we possibly feed more people?”, even though lavish fresh food displays contain more than is bought, and the rest put into the dumpster in the back and taken away, not even recycled, or given to those in need.

People complain about the high price of gas not realizing their evening meal has helped to create that high price.

Our bodies contain around 40 billion cells. We tend to think of the brain as the leader of the body, when in fact, it is the brain that coordinates the needs of the body. When our cells need food, our brain directs our body to eat - we as individuals do not consciously decide to “be hungry”. Awareness of our body’s needs is produced through cell membranes as electromagnetic pulses, read by the brain, and then action taken to satisfy that need.

In 1952 Professor W.O. Schumann discovered the existence of ELF (extremely low frequency) signals that pulsate in the cavity between the earth’s crust and the ionosphere. He fixed the most predominant wave frequency at about 7.83Hz. These pulsations today are knows as Schumann Resonances.

EEG studies have shown that when a person is deeply relaxed, brain sine-wave patterns and the heart/aorta resonate in the 7-8Hz range.

Alpha waves (7-12 Hz) are generated by the brain during dreaming and light meditation. As more neurons spread over the cortex, they bring calm, inner awareness, and learning. When we intentionally create alpha waves, we become environmentally synchronistic with a wave level that circles the earth.

The Schumann Resonance charge that circumnavigates the earth between the walls of the earth’s crust and the ionosphere is created from the 100 or so lightening bolts that occur each second in the 1000 lightening storms that cover the earth every day.

We are connected to this electromagnetic highway when we participate in harmonious thoughts, just as a conductor leads an orchestra performance, creating rhythms and direction for an audience.

The realization of this connecting pathway can reinforce one’s sense of effectiveness by knowing that, without even leaving our area, we can join and grow.

January 2006
Listening for the Hunger

We have seen so many variations on the bumper sticker that reads “Think Locally, Act Globally”, “Think Globally, Act Locally”, “Think Universally, Act Globally/Locally”, and “Think Locally, Act Universally”.

Now, right away, we know the universe is going to be a bit hard to handle, a little more than we want to bite off, much less chew. Even attempting a global act at this time feels intimidating. But perhaps we may be able to be successful on a local front, nothing too pretentious, just “Thinking Locally, Acting Locally.”

It is interesting how once knowledge of the whole increases, belief in the self decreases. Ages ago, knowing how to grow food or other crops was not a secret or an area within which only a few could function. As plant-world knowledge increased, it became more of a specialized field, one occupied by those with a “green thumb”.

Fresh market availability and the ever expanding mega-farms relegated those who had no time or purpose for gardening to the “brown thumb” category.

It is common to overhear conversations about how the CIA is watching each of us from high definition satellite cameras, the Illuminati are in control of the world’s finances and begin wars to increase their fortunes, and conspiracies by organized religion prevent us from knowing some Truth that, were it revealed, would bring confusion and despair to millions.

Another recent occurrence that has garnered attention is the dispute over whether evolution, the result of a fortuitous mixturing of space chemicals of which we are the result, is true, or if we began as some Creationists claim, on a 4,000 year old Earth.

Without a framework within which to place, use, and accept the ever mounting supply of facts, figures, ideas, and inventions, confronting global events and situations can leave one unprepared and unknowing about what to do next, somewhat like walking into the greenhouse, and suddenly discovering an overwhelming total infestation of aphids.

Ilya Prigogine discovered how physical systems, designated by him as “dissipative systems”, are able to convert disorder into order when subjected to “high-energy input”. http://order.ph.utexas.edu/people/Prigogine.htm

As any gardener knows, “Elements exist independently until specific conditions drive them to organize into a coherent whole.” These specific conditions help bring about congregation and organization for a common purpose.

Slime molds are composed of thousands of amoebas that live individual lives, but come together when hungry. Their combined hunger vibration is the signal of need that when reaching a critical point, congregates and organizes them into a single unit which will then move to a desired feeding location and there sprout stalks and a body from which spores are ejected and new amoebas are born to renew the process.

Our gardens produce foods for the mind, body, and soul. At present, we feed mostly bodies. But, hunger within the mind and soul will someday increase in vibrational need, reaching that critical point where humankind will congregate, organize, and move to a new level and a new place from which we will satisfy more than the body’s hunger with a world-wide willingness to grow.

Avant-Gardening is a creative process, a technique for growing personal creativity using plants as a medium to connect the garden outside to your inner-garden vision. It is a method of combining art, which is abstract, with craft, when working with a physical medium. It is a door, a path, a tool - allowing you to enhance your creative skills using plants.

It is learning how to establish a connection, joining inner visions, to physical and mental environments. The core of creativity is alchemy - the root of creative thinking - the basis for Avant-Gardening. ALCHEMY: from middle Latin: ALCHYMIA - transformation; to change in shape.

Personal creativity is a connection with the creative elements (air, water, soil) of the universe. You will have many creative situations that will be an opportunity to shift a paradigm - to step beyond yourself and your "limitations".

You can grow!

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