Natural Chaos

A garden bed with edible weeds in glorious (?) array

For a brief period earlier this year I had a lovely young helper in the garden, and he was a sponge for any information about plants and animals and a joy to have around. At one point, as he talked about how much he wanted a “yard farm” of his own, he looked around my yard and said thoughtfully “But mine will always be neat as a pin.” He didn’t say “by contrast,” but the implication was clear, and quite true.

Well, if there is one thing my urban homestead is not, it’s neat as a pin. Nature grows and blooms. Nature also surges, intrudes, overwhelms, dies back, regrows,  creeps, climbs, and insidiously gets Her own way. The gardener plays a part in natural chaos too; all the photos of lovely front yard veggie gardens that you see in magazines are taken before harvest. The gardener cuts the glowing rainbow chard, harvests the multicolored row of lettuces, picks the crimson tomatoes, and plucks the shiny apples, and suddenly things aren’t so camera-ready. Admittedly, many are neater than mine, since many gardeners lack my taste for edible weeds and my belief that nearly any plant has a purpose.  But if you want to get the most that you can get out of gardening, a degree of chaos tolerance may be a useful asset.

My blogging friend Luke of the Mortaltree blog summed this up so superbly that, with his permission, I’m linking to his post on the subject. So please hit this link and read his post “Taste of Chaos,” which really sums up the land-healing experience:

Taste of chaos

4 responses to this post.

  1. That sounds like quite a nice experience working with your little helper. I hope he learns the difference between organized chaos and chaotic organization before he gets his “yard farm” or he may be in for a surprise. Thanks for sharing my work.


    • Posted by wooddogs3 on September 25, 2017 at 9:34 am

      I think that when you’re young and have lots of energy, it may not hit you for a while that you are spending much of that energy fighting the Earth’s natural inclinations. I had to age 20 years and develop some orthopedic problems before I lost my shame about chaos in the garden.
      I’m curious about what led you to more natural ways of doing things in the garden.


      • I have never really made the hard and fast distinction that my methods are more ‘natural,’ or less, just more sensible. Perhaps that has been why I never really considered myself to have a transition from less to more natural methods. My parents have always gardened organically, and had friends who were market gardeners. This is of course a product of the times I have grown up in. My grandmother gardened fairly naturally with almost a food forest of a vegetable garden, and gave me little patches there I could grow some beans or foolishly transplant weeds. For instance, I planted a multi flora rose which years later grew into a monster. I do recall in those first gardens digging trenches and building rock walls to keep the weeds out. I would like to make a post actually on how my parents farmed in this suburban situation, using neighbors and family member’s yards to raise cows while we lived on a mere third of an acre. It was quite the suburban homestead.

  2. Posted by wooddogs3 on September 26, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I hope very much that you will write a post about those years at some point. It sounds important as well as interesting.


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