Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Teaching Now: The Food Garden

This spring, the food garden has emerged as my most recent teacher of Freedom.

Slow-growing seedlings, bolting plants, sun-burnt “sun lovers”, hungry birds and baby grasshoppers, alphids and slugs are offering plenty of stimulus to question enslaving unhappy beliefs and patterns. And for all the effort I’ve put into building this garden since last fall, I decided that suffering and pushing were not worth it. It is true that I’ve been very diligent at composting all kinds of waste from my home, creating multiple planting beds rich with nutrients, sowing a large variety of seeds, starting and caring for little plants, watering and weeding every day, building greenhouses, keeping wind barriers, and moving pots in and out to temper everyone on their way outside… But there is something wrong with thoughts like Grow damn it, grow!, Stupid cold streak, and Damn bugs and birds eating my plants!… All these stressful thoughts argue with reality and make me very unhappy!

So I decided to be happy with what I get. Whatever grows, great. Whatever pace is perfect. If plants bolt, welcome seeds. If they get eaten (and I can’t catch the perpetrators), enjoy. I decided to trust nature and the balance of the ecosystem in my backyard. Decided to accept my part as the human element in this system; do my work, share its fruit, and trust that I’ll get to enjoy some too. And as I indulged in the easiness of these thoughts while watering my plants, a little voice in my ear told me, perhaps now, because I’m letting go, my garden will grow abundantly. Regardless, I’m already enjoying it every single day.

leeks, spinach, cilantro, basil, and onions for soup and a steak wraprosemary, celery, and oregano for grilled chicken
lettuce, basil, mint, onion, and cilantro for spring rolls and dipsage, celery, green onions, spinach and thyme for a garnished millet

I think next week my foraging trips to the backyard will include strawberries and peas!

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  1. On , Amator mares wrote:

    I’ve always loved tactical aspect of growing a garden. I wage war on the invading tiny minions, wandering through my rows of lettuce tomatoes & onions with notebook and pen to measure the progress of current strategic initiatives and their effects. Ladybugs lacewings and spiders are my allies, and I deploy them accordingly! But yes, you can’t win them all. I met my waterloo with spider mites more than once :(

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    HA HA! I can totally relate to the notebook and pen… For a while. Last summer was so hot in Utah gardening was not as pleasant as it’s been in the past. Let’s hope this summer is nicer!