The Gardener 5/14/23

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Today was interesting.  A few weeks ago, I hired a service to dig out a 10’x10’ plot of my lawn for a garden.  I drove a device into it designed to keep the moles out and plunked a couple of kinetic art pieces to scare off the birds.  My friend helped me to pick out a half dozen different types of seeds like carrots, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, watermelon, peppers and green beans.  She also told me that I need to plant some marigolds around the edge to protect the garden from other animals. 

So today, I took a drive to a lawn and garden store near me.  Interestingly, I ended up spending a hundred and seventy dollars so I could get free vegetables.  I ended up buying a lot of “starter” plants, like tomatoes, lemon grass, basil, red peppers, and so forth. 

I didn’t want the plants to sit in the back of my vehicle all night, so I planted all of the starters and seeds today.  It should be a good time, since it looks like it is going to rain, off and on, for the next four days.  It is the first time I’ve ever planted a garden, so it should be an interesting experience. 

George Harrison once said that he is just a gardener who plays guitar (I’m paraphrasing).  It must be nice to be able to do what you want without worrying about making more money.  Many of my friends have been bitten by the gardening bug (not to be confused with the garden bugs), and they’re all excited for me to see me get into gardening and seeing what I can produce. 

These days, people have grass lawns, but it wasn’t that long ago that people would use their lawns to grow their own food.  With inflation being what it is, it wouldn’t surprise me if the trend started back towards the gardening craze, but the reason gardens were given up was as status symbols.  By planting grass instead of vegetables, people were basically saying that they were so wealthy that they didn’t need to grow their own food. 

In the renaissance, before there were banks, people used to wear their wealth on their backs.  They bought expensive clothes, jewelry and carried expensive things to show off their wealth.  The grass lawns became the symbols of wealth in our society, but unfortunately, even the cost of planting a garden is expensive. 

One of the side benefits of a garden are the bees and butterflies.  Last summer, I decided not to weed around my fence because I liked the look of the vines and weeds that were growing better than the fence itself.  What I didn’t realize was that, among the weeds, I had varieties of milkweed.  I recently discovered that milkweed are the only places that monarch butterflies will lay eggs, and as people are removing milkweed, the butterflies are becoming endangered.  I was thrilled to see so many butterflies around my fence.

Now with a garden, bees should be visiting as well.  Bees are also becoming endangered, largely because of pesticides.  I’m letting my dandelions grow as the are one of the first food sources for bees as they come out of hibernation, but hopefully they’ll help pollinate my garden.  Actually, bats help with pollination as well, and I’ve recently had a bat visit me in my bedroom, so that’s good too.  I actually purchased a bat house but have not yet hung it. 

Apparently, if the plants take, I’ll start seeing sprouts in a week or two.  It will be interesting, because I wasn’t very careful in how many seeds I planted or where.  In fact, as I tried to open one of the seed packets, it tore unexpectedly and flung seeds everywhere. 

One thing that I do know is that most plants remove nitrogen from the soil.  This is why it becomes necessary to add fertilizer to help plants grow, so the nitrogen removed in one season can be replaced.  Some plants, however, actually put nitrogen back into the soil, like legumes.  Knowing this, I planted green beans right down the middle of the garden.  If my hypothesis is correct, the plants should complement each other.  This is why farmers rotate crops, planting beans one year and other plants the next.  I’m hoping that, on this smaller scale, the plants that put nitrogen into the soil will help the rest of the plants grow, and vice versa.  I suppose in  few weeks I’ll find out if I’m right.


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