Buddhism, veganic gardening, compassion, and the vegan life calls all to deepen our relationships with Mother Earth and each other. Live sustainably, authentically, and lightly on the Earth. Manifest compassion for all sentient beings. The world is an altar. Worship in love.
Surviving Until Spring
Here’s one corner of our
winter home filled with plants. Some are the summer potted plants that we’re
overwintering – like aloe vera and banana. There are some hippeastrum in here
too, in various stages of bloom.
is an interesting time of year for the indoor gardener. It took years for me to
recognize patterns, and now that I see them, I no longer struggle with the
goes like this: at the end of summer, I haul in all the potted plants that can
be overwintered indoors. This includes citrus, some herbs, food trees like
avocado, mango, banana, papaya, and geranium and lemongrass. Some are placed in
the sunniest window in the house. Some are placed under grow lights.
the first month, they all go into shock. Leaves go brown and drop by the
hundreds. The plants look sick. Soon after, insects like mealybugs and fungus
gnats infest the weakened plants. Mealybugs are hard to beat, and the heavily
affected plants go into the trash. Out comes bowls of apple cider vinegar to
combat the gnats.
some plants have stabilized. They’re shadows of their summer selves, but
they’re alive. Others are still on the decline. By January, decisions are made:
the plants that are clearly giving up, those that won’t make it to spring, are
discarded. The remaining plants are rearranged a bit, pruned of dead growth,
and given a little nourishment.
are the plants that will see another summer. From January onward, they are
slowly improving. At least they’re done dropping leaves. They know, as we do,
that we are moving closer to the sun now, and they’re responding.
January forward, I don’t change a single thing about their lives. I don’t move
them to another part of the house, I don’t suddenly start watering them more, I
don’t give them much nitrogen. They’ve stabilized right where they are, and to
change their care now would kill them.
years ago, I had a gorgeous avocado tree that I had grown from a pit. In one
year, it was nearly 4 feet tall, with leaves like elephant ears. In autumn, I
brought it indoors, placed it in a bright window, and pretty much neglected it.
It got very little water. Dust collected on the leaves. But the tree, as lonely
as it was, was robust and happy.
following March, I decided to put it in the kitchen sink, give it a deep
watering, a feeding, and a cleaning. It looked beautiful. It was the best
avocado tree I’d ever grown.
later, it was dead. As soon as I returned it to its window, all fed and watered
and clean, all its leaves dropped and it shriveled up. It most definitely did
not like the attention. Sitting in its little window, receiving nothing more
than benign neglect, it went into a kind of happy, safe stasis that I disturbed
by trying to pamper it. It was a huge mistake.
kill our plants with kindness. We kill them by not listening to them. Outdoor
plants that come indoors for winter do best with the least amount of care.
Being smarter than we are, they know that summer is their time to play: winter
is time to rest. Don’t forget them completely, but for the most part, leave
Mexican lime tree is doing great: I throw a little water at it a few times a
week and leave it exactly where it is. It has not dropped any leaves since the
big drop last fall. I let dust collect on the leaves. No food. It’s good with
what it has, and to give it more would do it in. Like me, it’s staying under
the radar, and waiting for spring.
winter, I manage to successfully carry more summer plants safely through to
spring. But it’s been a trial-and-error endeavor. I still regret that
magnificent avocado tree. But another pit has taken root. This one looks good.
Only 69 days until spring.