Recently life and gardening has really reinforced that this world runs in cycles, and we can’t change that. There are cycles of years, seasons, and days. There is the cycle of life and death occurring every day. Plants, animals, insects, worms, fungi, micro organisms, even people are all subject to these cycles. Many times something dies so that something else can live, and in that lies the beauty of death. July 2 started off a good day, it was my mom’s birthday and we had two ducklings born on that day. But it ended off a bad day as we lost our oldest dog Rip to a heart attack and two other ducklings didn’t end up hatching because of the heat. No one wants to loose a loved one or pet because for us this is a bad thing, but that is part of the cycle of life. In the garden this cycle can be both good and bad for us. The earth and everything on it is renewed by this cycle, and we need to try to understand and work with it in the garden. One recalls the age old question that refers to a cycle, “How many seed are in an apple, and how many apples are in a seed.” We humans feel that we need to control our environment and our gardens, but we can make more problems and more work for our-selves if we are not careful. If instead we work with nature on it’s time frame we can keep reaping the benefits.
Sun, soil, water, and air, sun, soil, water and air
“Sun, soil, water, and air, sun, soil, water and air. Everything we eat, and everything we wear. Everything comes from; everything comes from, sun, soil, water and air.” Plants and algae are able to change the en-ergy from the sun into energy that can be used by all the other creatures on our planet. They also provide oxygen, matter to build the soil ,and can help clean water. But they can’t do it by themselves, they need help from the very creatures that they are feeding. When we subject their environment to chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides we can be causing harm by killing the organisms in the soil, or the predatory insects, or actually making the plants less healthy. When we rototile, compact the soil, move the top soil, or clean up the fallen leaves we can be causing harm by killing or changing the food web, causing hardpan, or allowing weeds to crop up. When we grow plants only to feed our bellies or eyes we are forgetting the big picture. If we are growing plants to also feed the birds and insects, the soil, themselves, and the fu-ture generations of the plants. Seed saving can be a way to allow these other things to occur.
we have to slow down and let the cycles complete themselves
As my veggie garden is cycling from a winter garden to a summer garden I have let a lot of the plants go to seed. We have seen happy hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies pollinating the flowers. The kids and I have found anise swallowtail caterpillars and later will see a few tobacco hornworms munching on plants. As we love these butterflies and moths we will leave them to share our plants.
As we collect the seeds some are lost to the wildlife, some are fed to the chickens, some will be planted for more crop, some are shared with other gardeners, and some will be started as sprouts. When you have radishes, broccoli, arugula, mesclun greens, parsley, cilantro, etc. creating tons of seeds you not only have lots to share you also get a lot of plant matter that can be eaten by insects, birds, animals, and even the plants themselves. What goes into the compost pile will feed next years veggies along with all the good guys that make the compost. Yes we have to slow down and let the cycles complete themselves but everything benefits from this. After harvesting the barley and some other plants I had left the stalks in a pile to either give to the chickens or put in the compost pile. I had wanted to take a picture of it for this article so I left it for a few weeks. When we were moving it the other day we found something amazing, hundreds of composting red worms and egg cases were at the bottom of this pile doing their job.
look to nature first for the solution before heading to the shed for warfare
When you see good or bad things happening in the garden ask yourself, “Did I do something to cause this? Is this a natural cycle happening?” Then look to nature first for the solution before heading to the shed for warfare. I find many times we are the cause of the problem, or that we are labeling a natural process as a problem.