Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hungry Bee

Last winter, very late in the afternoon, I encountered a lone bee on my steps. It was getting chilly, and being aware of how far away the beehives are, I figured she might have been too tired to make it home. There wasn't much blooming in the garden.

So I got this idea in my head that some honey might help her. I went inside and dipped a toothpick into a jar of (yes, organic local unfiltered) honey and set it in front of her. It worked. She drank for quite a while.

Then she wandered over to the edge of the stairs, and later she was gone.

I imagine after she got back to the hive, she started a religion.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

I thought all you gardeners might appreciate this.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Demise of Deborah's Garden

Probably most of you have moved on and forgotten about me. I know it's been that long. I not only abandoned my garden blog, but I abandoned my poor garden. Here is why:

Last spring, everything was humming along as usual, except that there was no rain. That was okay, though, we'd installed a sprinkler system to take care of these things. With no rain in this part of the country, it just gets hotter and hotter, and soon we were into an early heat-wave. Then the pump to our well broke. While I've spent years building up the organic topsoil in my garden, what lies beneath is pure sand. So, with the heat rising and the sun beating down on my garden, it started to wilt. We were frantically running around with hoses trying to get as much as we could with city water, but my garden was never designed for that, and the hoses barely reached. The hydrangeas were the first to go. Then one-by-one everything else started wilting. By the time we replaced the pump it was too late for my garden. I lost a lot and it was still only spring. The heat and drought were just getting started. So, I threw up my hands and gave up. It was too hot for weeding an such anyhow.

Then during the summer our creek went weird. It stank. It smelled like raw sewage--like an old-fashioned outhouse. The stench was so strong it burned our nasal passages. We had all kinds of environmental people over. We are downstream from a sewage plant, but they weren't owning up to anything.

It was gross. The water was milky-looking and bubbly. I retreated permanently upstairs. They sorted it out eventually, but between the oil spill of 2010, the drought, the neighbors who had a junkyard business, and finally the creek being polluted, we've decided to move on. Away from Florida, away from the heat. So, when we have our new home, I will have a new garden. I'll pop in a few observations from time to time, but I really just don't go downstairs and garden anymore.

Meanwhile, I've been upstairs at my computer making pretty things. Do check out my new blog, Deborah's Art.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Live Oaks and Mulch

A sure sign of spring in Northwest Florida is when the live oak trees start dropping their leaves. This process takes around two weeks and then they will push out beautiful new green leaves.
Most folks around here see this as an extra chore--raking and bagging to keep their lawns neat and green, but I see it as free mulch. My husband and I were driving through my parent's neighborhood on what was apparently yard trash pickup day. There were rows and rows of bagged oak leaves calling to us from the side of the road. We were in the truck. We could fit dozens of them in the bed of the truck--all that free organic matter that would eventually break down into beautiful rich soil. Did we do it? Nah. Sorry. The thought of taking home bags of trash from strangers didn't quite sit right for me. In the end I realized that there was no telling what else they might have stashed in those bags...

It did bring up the thought of the absurdity of modern American gardening, though. How silly is it to bag up organic matter to send off to landfills, and then trotting off to the store to buy fertilizer and mulch?

I stumbled on this amusing little story on the web:
GOD: St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the USA? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect, no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honeybees and flocks of songbirds.

I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers weeds and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

GOD: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

ST. FRANCIS: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week.

GOD: They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

ST. FRANCIS: Not exactly Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

GOD: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

ST. FRANCIS: No, sir -- just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS: Yes, sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS: You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

GOD: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stoke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

ST. FRANCIS: You'd better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD: And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD: Enough! I don't want to think about this anymore.
'Nuff said.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Lawn Attempt

When we rebuilt our home, we decided not to bother replanting the lawn. That choice has worked very well for us in the area where the lawn used to be, but we are on almost an acre of property, and with the loss of so many trees, the weeds had become rampant. Last year I tried a wildflower meadow, but the weeds took over and it looked worse. This winter I decided to create a "lawn-thing" in the area we can see from the house.
It's not a real lawn. I tossed annual rye grass and clover seed around the area. The grass will die by mid-summer, and hopefully the clover will survive, along with native grasses and other green things.
We don't own a lawnmower. We have one of those DR Trimmers for the rough stuff, but nothing that can handle this soft grass. So my poor husband has to trim it with his weed-whacker.
Meanwhile, squirrels have taken over the bird feeders.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

I'm Back...

The heat of the summer here eventually drives me indoors, and my poor garden succumbs to the weeds. Now it's spring and the weather is beautiful. I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it's nice to stop and observe what's blooming so far.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hands Across the Sand

As the oil spill nears our beautiful white sands, I'd like to send out a plea to all of you. There is a movement that is being organized to gather people on beaches everywhere to join hands and show support for protecting our coastlines. The website of the organizers is at http://www.handsacrossthesand.com. Please visit the site and check your area to see where people are gathering in your area and join in this event. Even if you live in a land-locked state or outside the US, you might find a gathering to show support.

While we can't undo what has already occurred, lets all make sure this doesn't happen again.
"Hands Across the Sand is a movement made of people of all walks of life and crosses political affiliations. This movement is not about politics; it is about protection of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, fishing industry and coastal military missions. Let us share our knowledge, energies and passion for protecting all of the above from the devastating effects of oil drilling."