This is a 500-year old Oak-tree, somewhere here in the US. I don't know where; if anyone knows, please let me know. The image is from http://i.imgur.com/BdXgkq4.png. It looks very much like the Friendship Oak which can be seen here, another 500+ year old oak-tree.
Apparently, the Native Americans also had some kind of commandments, much like the ten-commandments, a version of which is as follows:
1. The Earth is our Mother; care for Her.
2. Honor all your relations.
3. Open your heart and soul to the Great Spirit.
4. All life is sacred; treat all beings with respect.
5. Take from the Earth what is needed and nothing more.
6. Do what needs to be done for the good of all.
7. Give constant thanks to the Great Spirit each day.
8. Speak the truth but only for the good in others.
9. Follow the rythms of nature.
10. Enjoy life's journey; but leave no tracks.
These are really nice commandments to follow. Keeping all these in mind, I present some commandments that I follow regarding gardening. Many more might add up as I observe and learn more. I don't know if these are correct approach or not but being a naturalist and a vegetarian and who is opposed to killing (well most of the time but I do murder as I lift out my leek - I murder such and other plants or inadvertently walk over insects :-( ), I can't seem to follow any other methods:
1. Don't throw the fall-leaves away to be picked up by your town. Collect them at one corner of your garden, open to natural elements. Over time, they will become the beautiful and not-so-commonly available leaf-compost; you can also use them to mulch your garden. As they break down, they provide vital nutrients to soil. Put them in your vegetable garden; they will make the soil loose, through which water will flow easily, and roots can breathe in nicely. Put them in your pots for same reasons. The leaves collected in one corner of the garden will provide homes and breeding grounds to many beneficial insects. Birds will collect those leaves to build nest, I guess, during spring. Sometimes some birds might simply build nest there (it happened to us last year when a robin family decided to make nest there)!
2. Don't pick up each and every leaf from the lawn; leave some there. As they break down, they become fertilizers for the lawn.
3. Don't clean your lawn and backyard too much. Let all the dead grasses and stalks and seed-heads and whatever stand through the winter. They provide shelter, food and nest-building materials for animals.
4. If there are lots of branches/twigs/stalks lying on the ground, collect them at one place and pile them up high. Again, they would provide shelter to insects, bees and wasps. You might also enjoy seeing the natural process of mushrooms forming on them and slowly devouring the woods.
5. Welcome animals and birds in your garden. It's true that they might destroy your vegetables and fruits and flowers. But, honestly they do not create such havoc. If you observe them, you will notice they they become satisfied stealing one tomato or one broccoli from your garden. They are not greedy. If you want to protect your plants, then provide some fence or put up some fine-mesh. The poops of animals (deer, groundhogs, rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, skunk, raccoon, etc) and birds can become natural fertilizer. Many of them will also eat the insects/bugs that harm our plants. But more important than all these, think about these animals. We all used to be part of vast expanse of nature -- trees, woodlands, forests, meadows, river-banks. Now, all these are disappearing from world. Where will these poor creatures go? They also need places to eat, drink, sleep and survive.
6. Whenever you buy anything from outside for your garden, think twice before buying. Latest studies have shown that all the garden materials - gloves, knee-pads, pipes, containers, etc, etc -- contain deadly chemicals and they leach out to the soil/atmosphere under the exposure of sun, wind, water and dampness. Many of these might not last long, and then they will simply become land-fill, leaching out toxic chemicals and becoming havoc to water-animals and birds who might come across them in landfills or in rivers/oceans/seas/lakes. Try to think of alternatives or buy those that are costly but will last long and/or free of most toxicity.
7. Please do not buy anything that contains peat moss. Peat moss comes from peat bogs and they are more intricate natural environment than rain-forests are. Peat-bogs, along with its complex natural environment, plants, animals and insects which depend on it, are getting completely destroyed because of demand for peat-moss among gardeners in the US/Canada. A whole thesis can be written about peat-bogs and peat-moss. If you really have to use peat-moss, then do research and buy those that are obtained without the destruction of peat-bogs.
8. Do not use any sort of chemicals, even a tiniest amount for a small space, any time. Most of the present day chemicals are extremely complex and toxic. They will keep on surviving for eons to come; they will not break down into harmless products; they leach and spread and often time plants take them up through roots and stems and they spread through-out every nook and cranny of the plants. Washing the fruits/vegetables will not take away those chemicals. I already talked about one of such chemicals - neonics in one my earlier post. Chemicals will not only cost you money but they will create a chain-reaction effect. You will buy chemicals to tackle one problem; the chemicals will create another problem. To tackle that, you buy another chemical and the cycle will continue.
9. Take care of your soil and the soil will take care of everything in your front and backyard. It will produce healthy plants which will be able to survive against most attacks from pest/bug/diseases. Also, such problems might not even arise on the first place as healthy soil will produce healthy plants and good living organisms.
10. Above all, have utmost respect and love for your yard. We might not be able to see with our naked eyes or feel it, but everything out there - plants, insects, animals, trees, fungus, microbes - from deep underground to high above the tree-tops -- are working in tandem, hands-in-hands, they are pushing the wheel of nature and life. Just a simple example: you find slugs and kill them; with no slugs in your garden there will be less birds in your garden; less birds mean no-free-bird-poop-fertilizer and also increase of other and perhaps harmful insects. If you don't want to see slugs in your favorite plant, then put some rocks/egg-shells around the plants. That will deter some slugs. Then at one corner of the garden, provide slug food and put all your slugs from your favorite plants to those places. If you don't want to do such things, then get hold of those insects/bugs that you don't like and put them in your garbage bin. They will not die there and they might get transported to some other better location when the garbage is collected. Every life is precious, be it the life of slug or human being. If you still insist on killing, as we are all the time killing all the weeds (another life-form), then apologize to it for killing, and pray that it becomes free from the life of misery and achieve nirvana.