The article about downtown Milwaukee sinking is a fascinating read for anyone who has lived in the area. To create large structures, wooden pilings were driven into the marshland, to provide a base. Borers are eating away at the wood, so buildings are tilting and sinking. "Change and decay in all around I see...."
Charles Darwin was fascinated with the earthworm's ability to bury structures by creating soil, but he never grasped the divinely ordered purpose of the earthworm in improving soil. Four decades of study left him clueless about the design of the creature. If earthworms were not so common, we would have lecture series on them.
Rot is inevitable, so the real issue is how we deal with it. The Chinese recognized that they needed to return plant waste to the garden. This became Sir Albert Howard's contribution to agriculture in India, where the climate used up the soil rapidly. How can they grow tea without good soil?
I think of yard waste in terms of using it again. The bushes have their trimmings used for mulch or in the compost. The crepe myrtle will yield a lot of leafy scrap with relatively soft branches. That will be good for air pockets in the compost and new ingredients before the autumn leaves are added.
|Agent Orange devastates tender plants.|
The backyard gardens need plenty of shade to turn the grass into compost for planting in the spring. I tried to compromise in the corn patch and get some vegetables growing late, but Agent Orange feasted on the seedlings instead. I can use leaves and mulch to cover where I will plant in the spring. Downed branches from the latest storm will hold the leaves in place.
Some people plant green manure. They start beans or another nitrogen fixing plant. Before winter, they get out their 12 horsepower rototillers and osterize their soil. Instead, they should just let the frost kill the plants,allowing the roots to rot into the soil with their nodules of fixed nitrogen. The soil creatures are designed for this, not for being eviscerated and tossed around like grain in a threshing machine.
Here are some deep roots for rotting into the soil -
- Dandelions - fleshy roots rot into channels for rain and transport.
- Sunflowers - their stalks also serve as perches for birds during their hunt for food in the snow.
- Corn - this heavy feeder has extensive roots, so they can give back a lot of the soil ingredients they tied up while creating sweet corn.
Big leafy plants are going to have a good root system, which we loathe when weeding. If the weed is not obnoxious, let it rot into the soil by cutting the plant just above the surface.
|White Goosefoot, called Lambs Quarters and Wild Spinach.|
This robust weed is really a nutritious plant, loaded with vitamins and calcium.
A pile of branches can harbor the wrong animal and even be a fire hazard, but in the short run, branches on the ground are a bird haven. They love to have some elevation when searching for food in the grass. They also perch there after bathing on or under the bird spa along the fence. Branches give up insect larvae and harbor insects, so a bunch of branches can be a good source of bird food as well.
I took tossed out Christmas trees and put them in the backyard for bird shelters in the Midland winter. The dry skeletons became part of the compost in the spring. Once I bought garbage bags of leftover popcorn after a public event. Soon after, we had a record snow. I went out daily and tossed handfuls of popcorn in the snow. Soon I had resident birds cooing the moment I walked toward the garage, where their food was stored.
Likewise, a large tree overlooked the Midland yard, which served as the choir loft for birds observing me dig in the garden. I definitely felt watched. When I overturned the soil with my shovel, the prelude began. Happy hunting followed when I went inside.
My favorite pesticide was Little Ichabod. He took to blocks of wood and got rid of asparagus beetles for me. He came inside with green fingers from crushed beetles. Then we went modern and got some preying mantis eggs.