I am learning about mulching. I have a lot to learn.
Mulching is the gardening concept that leaves the soil between vegetables permanently covered by a thick layer of plant matter. Mulching protects plants during the winter, cuts down on watering and eliminates weeding (well, almost). Living in the area of the Kootenays that I do (zone 3-4 at best) adding mulch in the fall to protect plants for over wintering is a must but I am learning that I need to clear away some of that mulch in the spring to allow the soil and plants to breath and to warm up the soil.
One of the gardening books I have been 'digging' into the last few years is The Garden that You Are, by Katherine Gordon. This beautiful book is full of inspiring garden stories, recipes and tips and is getting inspired for this years garden and it has a good section on mulching. You can find this book on amazon.ca or at Kootenay book stores like Otter Books.
I think I love the book most because of its title, The Garden That You Are, as it evokes a very Daoist concept that our bodies are a microcosim of the natural world. That what compost or nutrients we add to our body, like soil, becomes part of us. That the processes and systems of the natural world are reflected in our human bodies. This gives me a sort of comfort and allows me to see beauty in Chinese medicine as it supports the processes of nature. It helps me to consider the body like a garden with blood we must build and nourish and excess fats or toxins we need to clear from our body like weeds.
It strikes me that many of us add 'mulch' to our bodies in the fall and throughout the winter in the form of extra body fat gained by the warming, nourishing, calorie rich comfort foods we enjoy during these seasons. In the same way that we must strip mulch off the garden in the spring, we must cleanse our bodies in spring in the same way.
In The Garden that You Are, Artist and gardener Rabi'a put it this way, "...Spring feels like such a time of renewal. I'm raking some of the mulch off my beds to help them warm up. I love seeing the rich, black, wormy soil again".
As in Chinese medicine, gardening is a act of balance - the garden beds need the mulch and the protection for winter, but when it is time, this comfort blanket needs to be pulled from the garden, the beds 'cleansed' of the excess of winter and the soil turned and prepared to recieve the seeds of a new garden year.
Our bodies too, require this warming up, this shaking off of winter and this circulating of qi and blood through our muscles and tendons.
So how do we do this is our own bodies?
There are many ways, but some Chinese medicine ideas around cultivating energy in spring are to move our bodies, take deep breathes, meditate, go to bed early and get up early with the sun,
eat more greens and bitter foods to cleanse our livers and digestive systems. Drinking warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning is a great place to start.
Along with greens, eat leafy vetegables, healthy grains that work for your digestive system and small amounts of meat. Drinking bone broth soup supports your kidneys through the last bits of winter and from a 5 element perspective supporting the kidneys in the spring season nourishes the 'mother' of the wood element (energetically connected to the liver) which is dominate in the spring. Read more on the benefits of Bone Broth Soup here and to purchase Bone Broth with Chinese Herbs perfect for spring renewal visit Wild Peach's On line store.
Chinese Medicine has many tools to help you cleanse your body and prepare the garden that YOU are for a healthy summer season. There are beautiful raw herbal formulas that can be used to build liver blood and cleanse out digestive system 'mulch'. Clients are always best served by visiting with a Chinese medicine herbalist for individual consultation. If you visit a practitioner and herbs are presecribed check back here for access to the lovliest organic herbs on the market, all organically grown in North America.
Until then, happy Spring! May you be healthy and happy as you cultivate the garden that you are.
Check out that book, it will get you out in the garden, I promise.