Principle 6: Live and Learn

Hide_SeekOne of the things I like most about being a gardener is that there is always something new to learn. It is a puzzle, a challenge, a game that never ends. Each season the combination of soil, plant and weather is different, and the garden that results is unique. By paying attention and keeping track of the changes over time, we come to know all three better. We learn, with a sniff and a squeeze, to know what the soil needs and when it is ready to plant; a quick glance at the peas tells us that it is time to harvest; the sound of the wind, the quality of the light and the antics of the swallows let us know that rain is near.

Thought and attention over time are the attributes of cultivation, properly understood, not of control, or of “production,” in the industrial sense. It is these two attributes that give meaning to life, strength to our families and our communities, and security to our way of life. Cultivation is characteristic of an evolving society, and control characteristic of a declining one, in which “standards of living” increase, but “quality of life” does not. May your gardens be both living, learning places, and models for a better future!

The Six Principles of Organic Gardening

  1. Feed The Soil
  2. Take Only What You Need
  3. Embrace Diversity
  4. Lose The Calendar
  5. Intervene As Little As Possible
  6. Live and Learn

For a little more depth you can check out this YouTube from a lecture series I gave in Shepherdstown, WV a few years ago. Sorry there is no audio, but I am converting the whole series into a free downloadable book. If you would like to be on the list to receive a copy of the free book on organic principles when it is finished, email me at seed2tablebook(at) and I will put you on the distribution list. This list will only be used to notify you of new book releases. To receive regular updates on this website, you should Subscribe to Garden Smarts by Email.

ShepherdPrinciple 6: Live and Learn

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