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Monday, August 2, 2010

Learning the Land - Part 4

Now this week is a fairly simple suggestion, though again it will take longer than a week to come to fruition (quite literally).

Everyone has heard the saying 'you are what you eat' no doubt, and it really is very true in quite a literal sense that goes much further than your health.
One of the things I have found to be most helpful in connecting with the land has been to grow some food and eat it. By doing this you are quite literally eating the land. It becomes part of you on a molecular and chemical level, just as you become part of the land itself when you die and the physical body decomposes (yeah I know, lovely imagery while I'm talking about growing food!) I'm talking provable science here again, and it's something you can read up on if you are so inclined :)
Everybody can do this. Sure it's best if you can actually grow something in the Earth itself, but if you can't it doesn't mean that growing your own as a method of connection is lost to you. Even if you grow in pots on a patio or window box - or even if you only grow something on a pot on your windowsill - you are still connecting to the spirit of the land. The soil is only part of the equation. You can still grow plants that are exposed to the air,and water them with collected rainwater, all unique to the place you live and therefore part of the whole. This will still bring you closer to the land and also its natural rhythms, which is also the point of the exercise. How can you expect to come closer to the Land if you don't know her natural rhythms? This isn't something you can learn from a book as each place will be slightly different. Optimum temperatures for growth will come at different times, differing length of daylight hours etc. Fruit, vegetables and leaves will be ready at different times in different places, and as part of your connection to the Land it's nothing but beneficial to know about when these things are happening.
So go get growing! Sure it might be getting too cold where you are, but you'd be surprised what can grow with just a little protection. At the least there are some salad crops that are suitable for growing during the cool times so long as you give them a little protection (cloches, bubble wrap, horticultural fleece - heck even half a plastic bottle upturned will do the trick).
If you can't grow in the Earth it's no big matter. Anyone can grow some herbs on their window. If you've got a sunny window you've got limitless choices of what to grow. If however you have window space but it's not very sunny, don't despair! Mint and sage for example will still grow for you (mint makes a lovely tea and you can get countless varieties to chose from. Sage is very useful for ritual and magickal purposes but that's a subject for another post! Again there are lots of different varieties - I grow pretty purple sage).
So grow something. PLEASE! Not only will it bring you closer to the Land in a local sense it will also help the Land in a global sense. Eating closer to home means there's that little bit of food that isn't being shipped half way around the world to your door. If you can try to source local food more frequently you really are doing the Earth a favour.
As a side note - plants are always cheaper to grow from seed and many cheap supermarkets often sell some of the more popular varieties seed packets quite cheaply. If you're looking for something a bit more unusual the best place is probably the Internet. Some seeds are difficult to germinate though so you might want to buy them as plants. Sage for example is supposed to be difficult to germinate. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try, just that you should be aware of this fact. I grew Sage from seed the first time I tried with no experience what-so-ever so difficult does not by any means mean impossible! Other plants self seed prolifically (like lemon balm) so if you can find a friend with plants you can probably beg some for nothing, and other plants are so voracious (like all the mints) that they spread all over the place, and again if you've got a friend with plants you can probably beg some for nothing!
Good luck - please give this one a go if you haven't already!
Nellie x

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