Saturday, 24 May 2014

May 2014. The crises of gardening. And the impermanence of Permaculture

This spring has been a crazy spring. If last spring and summer were exceedingly cold, this year I had been going through a sort of depression and major life crises, my motivation for the plants has lowered, and so has my attention to them. In result many plants died, and I have been struggling with the issue, that alone, the projects cannot be sustainable. Thus, this is a serious blow to my dreams.

I might leave the current community of Sólheimar I live in; the community has also been going through a severe crises, with many people leaving, a dense environment, leadership has been at best confusing and uninspiring, and negativity has been spreading like wildfire amongst its members. All constructive energy I try to apply, seems to fail, and this is a set of reasonable signs pointing to the need for a larger change in my life.

If I leave, I must develop a sort of emotional deattachment from my personal plant projects that I cannot take with me, in the airplane. And I will indeed take a long time away, because I can't stand more of the community problems. I need a peaceful and thriving place, where people really support each other in community actions. This is a painful process.

Now it's end of May and the frost is hopefully over. We had a warm April, but May brought cold and dry north winds, with frost, and as a result, transplanted plants died (except for peas, broad beans, cereals, and plants that were located in sheltered spots.

The most sheltered spot is against the walls of the house, in a corner, surrounded also by a plastic windbreak. It's a successful sheltered spot.

I layed some plastic windbreaks in the beds in front of the house, but although they raise the temperature in the southern side, in calm sunny days by 4ºC extra, in windy days, the ground is still very dry and frost develops during night. It's not enough protection. A house, or trees are necessary.

In the backyard, where the house faces a forest, a potato bed, survived the frost, because it has the protection of both and also plastic. I have a cherry tree there, which I surrounded by a guild of herbs and flowers, but it seems the tree will not flower this summer, maybe because the tree failed to gather enough energy from last year's terrible summer.

I left many plants dying, when one day, I forgot to water the plants, and the sun heated the conservatory to 35ºC and baked young seedlings. Without extra help, and losing motivation, and harsh environment factors, its very easy to lose plants. Beds seem empty outdoors, without that much to plant in there. I still have some perennials, but several were lost, and indoors, I have quite a lot of containers growing plants, but barely nothing to eat from.

Nevertheless, the growing 1 month of food project still goes ahead, with fields of potatoes, cereals and beans, and I am trying some corn outdoors too. But with the exception of the potatoes, I am unsure whether I will succeed in this experiment. I am just going to throw perennials and flowers and everything in the beds outside, and let nature decide what perishes and what survives.

Judging from my efforts, nature is leaving my beds nearly bare, with only a few weeds returning. Perhaps, the entire Permaculture orFukuoka approach need to be reapproached.

It's very idealistic to be on the permaculture or community bandwagon, but then reality is sometimes very painful and cruel, and doesn't match our dreams and expectations. And lately it seems everything seems to be rather chaotic around me.

Many of the endangered species are still alive (I lost the torrey pine), but I have no idea of what to do with them if I change my home. Again, it's one of those thorny heartbreaking questions. Do I leave them behind to abandonment? If I move somewhere else, I don't have a house or sense of roots, so no new home for them.

I also learnt that experimenting with too much, as I have been doing is really not sustainable, I would had need more people to help (which I haven't) and so I must be small and focus in much less ambitious ideas. Much less diversity of plants. Complexity has spontaneously reduced itself to simplicity, amidst this life crise within and around me.

It takes plenty of energy to start these projects, but very little to destroy them. This makes me wonder whether these projects are really sustainable and the best approach. I must deeply rethink this.

If we can still see hope and inspiration in this post, then it's really really great - that means that even in the bleakest gardening moments, one can still think positive and be inspired.