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On Becoming a Lifely Gardener

Debra Redalia

Our newly-planted half-barrel edible garden. We still need to add handmade bamboo supports.

For the past couple of weekends, Larry and I have been occupied with setting up our organic garden for this summer.

Last year we saw at our a local organic nursery where they had planters sitting on old pallets, which gave them drainage and also elevated the planters to a higher level that is easier to reach than bending over all the way to the ground. Since Larry has an old back injury, we decided this would be a good way to set up our half-barrel planters.

We use planters instead of planting directly in the ground because there are gophers here, and using planters is just the easiest way to protect the plants.

So last weekend we went down and bought potting soil and manure in plastic bags.

And during the week we started buying vegetable seedlings.

We went to our favorite nursery because last year we bought some wonderful heirloom tomato plants there. But this year they not only didn’t have my one favorite that I wanted to buy again, but they had hardly any tomatoes at all! After driving a half hour to get there and then staying in line for another half hour, I was disappointed.

As we drove home for another half hour, I said to Larry, “I should have saved the seeds for that tomato I liked so much.”

And then I realized that yes, I should have saved the seeds but I didn’t because basically I was an “industrial consumer gardener.” Why save seeds when I can just go buy the plant next year?

I know alll the reasons to save seeds to save money, preserve biodiversity, etcetera, but I wasn’t doing it because in the realm of gardening, I was thinking like a consumer.

The lifely way to garden would be to plant in the Earth, make your own compost from food wastes (our food wastes actually go into a family compost pile, but we didn’t take compost out), save seeds, and do it all again next year.

Now that I can see how I was still being an industrial consumer in the garden, we can make some changes. Awareness always comes first.

Last year we took our first step out of industrial consumer gardening by making our own tomato cages out of bamboo instead of buying industrial metal tomato cages.

And we also bought discarded cut-in-half-wine-barrels from local wineries to use as planters—reuse of local materials.

So we were started with what we could be aware of about not being industrial consumer gardener last year.

Ste-by-step, bit-by-bit, we’re moving in a direction with this.

One of the reasons I retired from doing my nontoxic products work as Debra Lynn Dadd was that having my viewpoint limited to “no toxic chemicals” didn’t include all these other factors that affect life.

I was holding in my hand a coil of plant tie made of plastic that qualified as nontoxic, but it’s not biodegradable. And even aesthetically it’s not as attractive as twine made from a renewable, biodegradable material that could have been used instead.

As I continue to work with our lifely concept, I see how limiting myself to a nontoxic perspective all these years prevented me from even considering these other things. Yes, everything should be free from toxic chemicals for human health and the health of the Earth, and that still an issue that needs to be addressed in and of itself. It’s just…there’s more to life than nontoxic.

Welcome to Lifely!

Quite simply, this blog is about orienting ourselves and our lives to Life, instead of orienting ourselves and our lives to industrial consumerism. Here we are sharing our own journey. You come too. Read more...

Debra & Larry Redalia
lifepartners + soulmates

For more than 30 years we have been delving into the nature and activities of life together. Indeed, this has been and continues to be the very reason we are together. With delight, we research, explore, observe, and even wake each other up in the middle of the night to discuss how life functions and how we can function as life—even while living in the modern world. We each are different from the norm, but we are different in the same way, so we have been able to think outside of the ordinary together and find the extraordinary workings of life.

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