by Charlene Burgi
There seems to be a flurry about the price of gold these days. We are talking about something that comes from the ground that carries value. It makes me laugh to realize—if we aren’t talking about gold or oil—we rarely think about what of value comes from the earth. The truth of the matter is there is more than gold that comes from the ground that has life-giving value.
Think about it. There is gold found in our food that we grow in our gardens that sustains us. There is gold in the garbage that we compost that enriches the soil to produce our crops. There is gold in the beneficial insects that help pollinate the crops. There is even gold in the stuff some of us shovel out of our corrals every day, or purchase in the way of manure. And let’s not dismiss the person who works the soil, composts, and grows the crops. That is the person of gold.
Our farmers are working on a huge scale to help feed this nation, but that doesn’t negate the contribution from the urban farmer, the backyard gardener, or the child learning to place a seed in the ground and watch it grow. Each and every one of you enriches your life and those you share with by enriching the soil around you and keeping the earth alive with nutrients.
If you question the value of healthy soil, notice the condition of the earth next time you drive by a construction site after the grading is completed. You will see the growing conditions for our plants are nil after the graders and earth movers have removed or displaced the topsoil that is critical for plant growth. One could say the gold or microorganisms have been removed. The backyard gardener is the one who brings back that wealth with each trip to the compost pile to turn it over or add to it. It is the homeowner who sheet mulches and grows cover crops to add back what was once removed. It is your efforts for attracting wildlife and beneficial insects back into our realm to fertilize and pollinate our plants.
The dividends of these efforts are found in the wealth of homegrown produce. The richness is experienced as the juices run down our chins from the golden peaches or heirloom tomatoes that are plucked right out of our gardens. This is where we find the gold.
I have included a picture of a peach from a tree we planted on the ranch three years ago. It is very near the house that we built and next to the temporary compost pile we made. The first year it produced seven peaches. This year we have more than 30 peaches on a tree not taller than six feet. The results are golden, delicious and oh, so sweet!
May I suggest that if you haven’t done so yet, plant a little gold in your own backyard. The riches are beyond words.
(And more gold is available by taking or having someone you know or work with take the Spanish-language Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper program, coming up October 11-29 in San Rafael.)