I have long maintained that if I had invested all the money I have spent on books into shares, I’d be sitting on a pretty healthy retirement fund by now. But I chose to invest in books, in knowledge; in a resource that, while it might not see me cruising the Carribean in my Autumn years, continues to provide a wealth of information that I use daily to enrich my life now. However, in recent years there has also been the internet, with its seemingly endless flow of up-to-date information. So, I have utilised the web to research any and all topics (a little too much this year as you’ll read about in a moment) but still get pleasure in being able to flick to a page in a familiar book, where I know I’ll find reliable information is a pleasure I would not give up for all the digital books or You-tubes available.
Now here is one of the things that I have noticed happening this year. There seems to have been a sudden explosion of how-to information. How to grow your own vegies, how to look after laying hens, how to graft and prune fruit trees; all great stuff., and despite having bookshelves full of info on all that, I found myself glued to Youtube, watching video after video, showing me how to do stuff I’ve been doing for years, but differently and, as I felt at the time, better. So, I ended up spiralling down into a pit of self-doubt and confusion. Was it possible that I had been planting my broccoli at the wrong time of year all these years? Were my chickens suffering because I hadn’t been making up my own grain mix? Was I feeding my worm farm all wrong? Why was my garden not as orderly or as pretty or as productive as the gardens I was seeing in the videos?
After several pots of tea and a good bit of reflection, I realised I was suffering from a severe case of information overload, much of which was conflicting. It reached the point where I wasn’t trusting my instincts anymore and felt I needed to consult someone else for pretty much any decision I had to make. A sad and sorry state indeed.
I realised the source of my troubles stemmed from all the how-to information on the internet and have lately stepped right back from all of the Youtubery. Being in a state of mind where you are constantly looking outside of yourself for the right answer is exhausting and frightening. Listening to so much advise from so many sources was undermining my confidence in my ability to work things out for myself and to trust that I knew the way.
Conversely, when I relax and trust my intuition it is, for me at least, and hopefully for you too, exhilarating and nurturing. I noticed this week, while I was planting seedlings, that I was letting my eyes fall on a spot in the garden and knowing that that particular spot was just where a tomato wanted to grow. And another spot was calling out for lettuce. Admittedly, I’ve lived in this garden for a few years now and am very familiar with the climatic influences throughout the day and I’ve been learning about companion planting for many years too and that all certainly came into play. The difference was that, instead of being rigid about rules of crop rotation, planting in straight and orderly lines and even companion planting, I was listening to my own instinct and it felt wonderful. I felt connected with the earth and with all the plants around me and I felt peaceful. After such a tumultuous year, that was surely a blessing.
Having said that, if there is something very specific, I want to know and can’t find it in my books, or if I want to know something super quick, like Right Now! I will head back to the internet but, I have learnt to narrow those online searches down to very specific sources where possible. An example. If I’m looking for gardening info, I’ll head to either Vasili’s Garden on Youtube to Craig Castree’s Edible Gardens page on Facebook, rather than putting in a general ‘How do I grow amaranth’ type question and leaving it up to the algorithms in charge to decide who will dish out the info. And I’d be fooling myself if I say that I won’t ever look at a gardening video from Wales again (Huw Richards, I’m looking at you!) There is a lot of really worthwhile information out there. But you do have to sift through it don’t you? And I think now I would rather be in my garden intuitively gardening rather than getting overloaded, confused, distracted, and overwhelmed by the information and opinions floating around on the web.
So, in a nutshell, the point I am trying to make, is to nurture your intuition by feeding it well and listening to it often. You don’t need to know it all. Find some good teachers or mentors, whether that is online, in person or in books. Look for information that resonates with you and use that to guide your decisions and enjoy this creative process of living.
Next time Kerrie and I will be giving you a peek at our bookshelves and sharing some of our treasures with you. That’s actually what I meant to write about today, but the muse took me elsewhere. So next time.
Until then, we wish you a peaceful heart, a joyful mind, and gentle hands. Megan
PS. Incidentally, I have books by both of these wonderful (Vasili : vasilisgarden.com and Craig: facebook.com/craigcastreeedible) chaps too and highly recommend them). I know that both of them give solid advice based on many years of experience and I also know that they live fairly locally so their information is pretty spot on for my climate and season.
PPS. Quite coincidentally, the recent Huw Richards video I linked to, youtube.com/watch?v=6xZmqiexR9E is precisely about the thing I wanted to remind you of, about following your intuition in gardening as in life.