Earth Whispers Part 1 by Janine Donoho

My spring garden

My spring garden

A proposal: let’s make every day Earth Day. Yes, my hair’s still on fire over climate change, yet I’m learning to walk the walk of a calm-assertive. Thank you, Cesar Millan. This approach comes from dealing with those fearful aggressives known as Deniers, Birthers, and Birchers (DBBs). Just call me an earth whisperer.

Recycling old seeds into balls

Recycling old seeds into balls

Those of us who recognize there’s no valid connection between actual scientific basis and personal belief systems need to set rules, boundaries and limitations. Consider it a rehabilitation effort on behalf of our struggling planet.

Clay & seeds

Clay & seeds

That means no more caving to fabricated ‘beliefs’ that harm our planet. Calmly and assertively explain that tactics used by corporate shills are the same dishonest strategies used by tobacco companies to ‘prove’ that smoking is good for you. And their response to pesky lung cancer? No causal relationship to their product. How has that turned out? With our entire support system aka Planet Earth at risk, where else do you plan to live?

Now invite your DBBs to make seed balls. Our high desert requires that we conserve moisture. Seed balls do just that. Besides, who wouldn’t find unity in this fun activity? Here’s the recipe I use:

  • 2 parts mulch (certified organic mushroom mulch is my fave)
  • 5 parts powdered red clay
  • 1-2 parts water
  • 1-2 parts seeds*
  • Mixing tub
  • Cardboard box to dry and store seed balls

    Seed ball mixture

    Seed ball mixture

Directions:

  • Combine mulch, clay, and 1 part water thoroughly. Go for a lump free version and slowly add more water until your mixture’s the consistency of toy store molding clay.
  • Add your seeds* and more water as necessary, then knead the mixture until well mixed.
  • Pinch off bits of the mixture and roll into balls about an inch in diameter. The texture should hold together easily, so add more water if it’s too crumbly.
  • Dry your seed balls for 24-48 hours in a shaded place. Too much heat causes cracks.
  • Once they’re dry, sow or store in cardboard containers, since plastic bags can lead to unintended germination.
  • When you sow your seed balls, opt for the gentle toss method versus careful placement. Tossing’s way more fun and for me, precision hasn’t led to better results. Please don’t bury or water them, though.
A few seed dried seed balls

A few seed dried seed balls

That’s it. Our first Earth Day project. Consider this 1 part invitation and 2 parts love note to our earth. I’ll share more delights in the future and hope you’ll do the same.

*Some recommend using one species of seed in each ball. I’m not a purist and like the surprises that come from mixing whatever drought- and deer-resistant flower seeds I have. Mine are all rated for zones 1-3, but make sure yours suit your local environs.

How are you finding ways to contribute to the health of our earth? What are you doing to minimize your impact?

When joy happens

When joy happens

Color & texture

Color & texture

Reflections of beauty

Reflections of beauty

 

Atrophy & Recovery – Part II by Janine M. Donoho

Last night during a nocturnal wander through the house, during wakefulness fueled by housetraining that adorably cute Italian Greyhound viewed in Part I, I noticed starlight bouncing off the black plastic laid for next year’s garden area. You see, this is one of the most passive and easy returns on preparing soil for new plantings.

Beneath the opaque cover, which soaks up late summer and autumn rays, then cooks the existing seed banks into submission, the organics formerly-known-as-weeds become fuel for astilbe, peonies, anchusa and other faves. Well, an equivalent to this is what happened during my crossover from tech writer with fictional aspirations into novelist. As promised, I’ll share the watershed events that led to this transition.



The equivalent of plastic mulch in my life at that time took me from writing about forced draft blowers, main feed pumps, lithium bromide plants and the ever cool condensers into first women’s fiction, then onto my latest rage of contemporary and high fantasy. Okay, admittedly, FDBs and MFPs can be wickedly geekish and even satisfying to write about, but world building’s way more fun.

 

Allow me to tout two books, which at that time helped me both mentally and emotionally into transition. Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ WOMEN WHO RUN WITH THE WOLVES and Julia Cameron’s ARTIST’S WAY provided both cure and inspiration for what ailed me. Let’s face it, Navalese-speak does not make for a bestselling author, although it does help with keeping to just-the-facts Jack.

Estes’ tome uncovered personal stories, often painful, that thwarted my instincts to probe into the depths and dark places. Then Cameron gave me permission to use those finds to go where story lives. Yes, I’d dabbled in poetry, fiction and playwriting before then, which had been somewhat successful. Let’s face it; a menu that includes twelve weeks of the equivalent of really good dark chocolate for the brain and spirit can take you so much further. Especially when led through the process by Estes and Cameron’s empathetic, yet grounded approaches to healing.
 

Since then, I’ve turned to other geographically remote mentors such as Stephen King’s ON WRITING, Carol Lloyd’s CREATING A LIFE WORTH LIVING, Susan Shaughnessy’s WALKING ON ALLIGATORS and FRUITFLESH by Gayle Brandeis. I’ve even returned to Julia Cameron, although her later works failed to spark the same cascade of light as ARTIST’S WAY, through no fault of hers. We artists are receptive at different times to different magnitudes of inspiration, after all.

 

So if you find that atrophy has set in and hope to recover not only your mojo, but go to a greater level of creativity and productivity, think in terms of mulching your creative beds for your next planting season.

As it happens, I plopped four bags of commercial soil onto my black mulch, cut the tops open, then planted each bag with cold crop vegetables such as arugula, Kweik organic lettuce, endive, pak choy and broccolini. Oh, and I threw a few seeds of Misato Rose radishes and boro beets in for good measure. Next year, that soil will be turned into what lies beneath to further enrich the soil. Yum.
 
So I encourage you, too, to turn to the sources that feed your soul and makes it fertile. It beats atrophy every time. And if a puppy helps you along your way, why not?

Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
The big day is here.

Newsletter signup

Join in and receive a FREE short story as my gift to you. Exclusive promos, book deals and contests available only to subscribers.

%d bloggers like this: