The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream - Sunday, 10 AM Central.


Thanksgiving Eve - 7 PM Central Time.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Gardening Questions - Since Some Ask.
Creating the Fungal Jungle with Straw Bales

I consider tomatoes to be weeds with tasty berries.
I do not build supports or put up wire cages.

How do you get rid of persistent weeds?

Weed killer is not as effective as they make people think, and many have grave doubts about spraying it all over like a garden hose. I would use RoundUp or Dawn detergent on poison ivy, but not anywhere else.

Broadleaf weeds are easily quashed with repeated mowing. They cannot go to seed and their mulch helps the grass grow.

Weeds in the low spots of sidewalks? If the soil has built up, shovel the weeds and soil out together and use the combination as compost or mulch.

Weeds in the narrow cracks in a stone walk or a sidewalk? Apply salt, whether table salt or rock salt. In a saline solution, it will dry up the plant and be persistent in stopping growth without being necessarily toxic. The salt can be diluted later with water and will be from rain and watering.

A salt water solution is going to dry up the plant roots. You could do the same with a whole bag of dry, inorganic fertilizer, but that would go right down into the water table. My uncle burnt his wife's roses by double applying fertilizer. Water would have helped. His intentions were good.

Irony - roses grow best without fertilizer. If you love roses, cover the ground between them with a layer of newspapers, about 1/2 inch thick, with mulch over the newspapers. I water the newspapers first to keep them down while the mulch is piled on. Mulch prevents weeds, composts the lawn for a wonderful soil environment, and turns all covered weeds into compost. Mulch holds water and prevents wind and water erosion.

Straw bales can grow flowers or vines from the sides, too.

Which side is up with straw bale gardening? Creating the Fungal Jungle

Straw bales are placed with the strings on the outside, facing the gardener, although any configuration will work. The straw side up on top makes planting a little easier. For you city slickers, that is like looking into the top of  a box of soda straws. The other side of the bale looks relatively mangled, but it will work too.

I got mine going early before our last snow and the rain that followed. Every so often I watered with a soaker hose too, keeping the straw damp, like a wet rag wrung out.

The straw becomes a composting medium where soil creatures and plant roots can meet and make deals, carbon and root exudates (for fungi and microbes) in exchange for whatever the plant needs. The fungi can travel far for the food, if it gets the carbon it cannot manufacture on its own. Thus the straw bale becomes a fungal jungle beneficial for all plants.

Hydroponic gardening is another version of this, producing tasteless tomatoes. As some wit said, a hothouse tomato is the fourth state of water - liquid, steam, solid, and tomato.

The difference is the microbial activity--in soil and straw bales--rather than counting on water and chemicals to do the job in hydroponics.

Every get a dozen roses at the store, only to see them wilt in 24 hours? They are produced for show rather than for long term health. Of course, shipping and neglect shorten their lives too. The ones we bought for Easter were extra fresh and lasted most of the week, given away to three neighbors while we kept some. They were given in memory of Gary Meyer.

The soil, an ocean of life,
does not need a rototiller hurricane to stir it up.


Biggest Mistakes of Gardeners

Beginners are a too timid. They should experiment more, observe more, order more and plant more. To lose one plant is crushing, but that will happen every season. If it is one plant or one variety that crashes, the abundance of the rest make up for the human mistakes or the inclement weather.

Gardeners should water more after planting. They should save as much rainwater as they can and use it on their favorite plants. Rather than buying a capture kit for way too much money, I bought two Rubbermaid garbage cans, each lid converted into a birdbath top.

Gardeners should prune roses and bushes and trees. Roses and bushes grow and have better shapes with pruning. Trees need more light and air.

Gardeners should stop using poisons. Instead, they should welcome a wide variety of God's creatures to do His work, as planned from the beginning. Has anyone ever said, "In the beginning, Monsanto...."?

Finally, everyone who grows anything in a yard should keep the organic matter there and let the soil creatures, birds, and toads do their work.

 This is the Dick, Jane, and Sally version.
Middle school version -
the truth is incredibly complex
with infinite dependencies.