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To What End?

Back when we were part of the institutional church, the woman whom we called “pastor” at the time once asked from the pulpit, “To what end?” She was encouraging and challenging her congregation to ask that question before setting out to do something.

Of course, she put a spiritual spin on it. If the answer isn’t, “To glorify God”, or, “To fulfill God’s will for my life” or whatever, we shouldn’t do it.

I’ve asked myself that question a lot since then, but usually not in a spiritual context. I just want to drill down and check my motive for doing something.

Wait. That is kinda spiritually related, isn’t it? Your motives.

Confession time: more often than not, the motive revolves around my selfishness or pride.

Such is the case with the lasagna beds J and I have been building. Lasagna gardening is a way to create rich soil for growing by layering organic material in the area where you want a garden bed. It’s composting in place, with a layer of cardboard or newspaper at the bottom to discourage weeds from growing, then alternating layers of carbon-rich (leaves, shredded paper) material with nitrogen-rich (food scraps, grass clippings, weeds) material.

The different layers is how it gets its name, lasagna gardening.

We – more so J – have been sweltering in this hot, humid summer to gather materials for the beds, two and a half ten-by-three-foot beds so far. It’s taken a ton of time, a toll on my lower back which refuses to heal, and most of our energy.

It’s been miserable.

So I finally asked myself, “To what end?” Why have we been making ourselves miserable day after day and week after week to build these beds, when we have the money to just fill the boxes with potting mix?

You know why? Half guilt, and half pride. Guilt, for three reasons. Number one, it’s evil to buy things in plastic bags (everybody’s aim is supposed to be zero waste, don’t you know). Number two, shouldn’t we be more frugal and keep as much money as we can in our funds “just in case”? And number three, we have all the leaves, grass and weeds we could ever want for building lasagna beds. So we should suck it up and do the hard work of using the resources on our property.

Where does pride come in? Bragging rights. “Look, we garden the economical and natural way.”

Special emphasis on the word “natural.”

Because don’t you know, people who container-garden or otherwise don’t figure out how to work with the native soil (by amending the soil or building lasagna beds or using heavy mulch) are inferior to people who garden “naturally.”

Fine, then. We’ll go on and be inferior. We’re going to fill the top half of this third bed we’ve started with potting mix, as well as the entire fourth, fifth, and sixth beds. And this winter, when the organic material in the first two beds have composted down to four to six inches, we’ll fill up the remaining four to six inches with potting mix.

And maybe, just maybe, I’ll stop hating this miserable summer weather so much. Because I won’t be forcing us to be working our tails off in it for hours on end.




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