The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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New Year's Eve Hymn service - 7 PM Central
NT Greek Lessons - January, 2017

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

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Jackson Rose Farm Is Bursting into Bloom - How To Get There

Our extra newspapers were on the soil, out in the rain and snow,
all winter. They were loaded with earthworms, dampness, and soil critters.


When Sassy and I returned from our morning walk on Sunday, the owner of the nearby plant nursery was there with his son and their new dog. Sassy wanted to meet them as they entered our cul-de-sac. Because of some neighborhood business that developed, we had a long visit that ended up in our yard and in our house. Mrs. Ichabod had a great time answered a bunch of little boy questions, and Sassy had a new dog-friend, Opie.

Our yard is rapidly developing into a destination for rose lovers. Almost Eden handles the plants I know little about, and I began to grow them and learn about them last year.

Here is our current bloom list:
All 20 of the roses in the maple tree garden are blooming now, because they mostly came from the Gurney's specials of 5 for $25 last year. Some of them are already favorites of mine or others.

  • Mr. Lincoln and Veteran's Honor, both fragrant reds, are producing intensely beautiful red blooms.
  • Peace is ready to burst into bloom, with bushes full of buds.
  • Pink Peace had such spectacular blooms that I cut some for the chiro.
  • Pope John Paul II produced some perfect white blooms for the bouquet, above. Some may be getting hit by aphids already. They are a good trap plant to attract aphids that feed the beneficial insects. The next round will be won by the beneficials like the ichneumon wasp and flower flies.
  • Queen Elizabeth bloomed and was so captivating that Almost Eden took a vase home with some unidentified orange roses from the first planting - 8 for $64, QVC.
  • Tropicana is a great rose for cutting, short canes and enormous blooms.
  • Many others are just starting to show off their colors.
  • Each red KnockOut has 50 buds and blooms. The white KnockOuts, another aphid haven, is in full bloom, and so are the two pink KnockOuts.
  • The new roses are popping their first leaves and seem 100% growing.
The ill-fated straw bale slug farm was here.
The sunny garden should be reserved for heat and sun-loving plants:
such as sunflowers and tomatoes.

Last year's plants respond to two rainfalls, the last one - 4 inches!
  1. The blueberry canes were already flowering and fruiting. Now they look very prosperous.
  2. Trumpet vines in several places seem likely to grow more and flower for the hummingbirds.
  3. Blackberry bushes have gone from survival to spreading themselves.
  4. Raspberry canes in the sunny garden are also spreading. They are candidates for the Wild Garden.
  5. The wild strawberries, which spread on their own and also via the B-52 bombing tactics of birds, are all over the yard and stretched out in a shady area - fruiting like crazy. Their berries are little red jewels.
  6. The elderberry plants are tall and budding, soon to flower, with many sprouts around their base. Soon they will be a hedge for birds and a home for beneficial insects. See below for EFN - extra floral nectar.
  7. Three butterfly bushes are bursting into growth, and one is struggling. The last one may not get the water it needs, so it is on my rescue list again this year, Last year the slugs were feasting on its tender growth.
  8. The honeysuckle vine is bursting with buds and starting to claim territory. I used some gardening tape to help it cling to the tree stump I left in place, with a soaker hose draping down on it to water it extra. The vine said, "Thanks I will make my own supports on the soaker hose, to sip it more effectively."
Lawns are so boring and wasteful.
This has become all rose garden.

Extra Flower Nectar - From Jessica Walliser

The extrafloral nectar produced via the specialized structures on this cherry leaf offers a sweet reward to beneficial insects in return for their help controlling herbivorous pests. 

The composition of EFN is different from that of floral nectar. It’s about 95 percent sugars and 5 percent amino acids, lipids, and other components. It is known to be a suitable food source for a large range of insect species; it is not, however, a complete source of nutrition and therefore makes beneficial insects need to feed on protein sources (like pest insects!) to fill in the nutritional gaps. 

A study that examined the EFN of lima beans to determine its role in attracting predators and parasitoids determined that parasitic wasp and fly species were significantly increased when artificial EFN was present, and the bean tendrils with artificial EFN present had significantly less pest damage than those without the artificial EFN. You may ask why these researchers had to use artificial EFN for their project. Interestingly, natural EFN is often secreted in conjunction with semiochemicals, making it difficult to determine whether the parasitoids and predators are coming because of the EFN or because they are receiving the emergency signal from the plant. These researchers, however, only added the artificial EFN in amounts and locations similar to natural EFN production. It was clear in this study that the presence of EFN alone accounted for the increase in predation and parasitism. 

Many different insects sip EFN, including a large number of natural enemies, making it a valuable tool in a plant’s defensive arsenal. When plants with the ability to excrete EFN are attacked by herbivores, they pump out more of it in hopes of luring in the good guys. EFN serves as an indirect defense against herbivores and can be produced throughout the day and even during the night. 

EFN can be produced by members of many common plant families, including Rosaceae (roses, strawberries), Euphorbiaceae (euphorbias, poinsettias), Asteraceae (asters), Liliaceae (lilies), Fabaceae (peas, beans), Curbitaceae (squash, cucumbers, melons), and Asclepiadaceae (milkweed). In my garden I can readily spot EFN production sites on my elderberries, fruit trees, beautyberries, peonies, sunflowers, morning glories, impatiens, and hibiscus. EFN is, in fact, a very important extra nutrient source for natural enemies, especially when prey are scarce. Being on the lookout for EFN production sites on your own plants can lead to some interesting interactions with insects.

Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 1468-1492). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

Needless to say, the EFN section really woke me up about the engineering of plants at Creation. I always thought of nectar being the bait for pollinators - and it is. But the production of EFN clearly aims at (the purpose puzzle - evolution? no Creation) attracting beneficial insects. Subsequently, we can see the value of a plant crawling with insects for the bird population. They see plants as a good place to gather insects for themselves and their young.

Sunflowers develop their EFN especially early, so they are valuable for their size and battleship sized platforms for all life. A grasshopper can munch away (until eaten) on a leaf and not hurt the plant. The beneficial insects gather for the rich food resources. Birds and squirrels look forward to the seeds, and the bees carefully pollinate each bud of the compound flower.

The oldest part of the main rose garden kept its mulch,
because we mulched it again whenever weeds erupted through it.


Do Not Stir or Shred the Earthworms
Another question came in about earthworms, cardboard, and newspaper. The contributor will remain anonymous at a secure, undisclosed location.

He asked about rototilling and earthworms! I ask in return, "Would you bring a lit torch into a fireworks display?"

There is no need to rototill or dig organic materials into the soil, because the earthworms and other soil creatures will accomplish this on their own.

Newspapers and cardboard have the primary job of blocking the sun and tying up nitrogen that weeds and grasses need. The result is decomposition of everything green underneath. Green stuff, even old straw, is high nitrogen and candy for the bacteria. The earthworms graze on bacteria, so their population soon explodes, especially among the red wigglers which specialize in this kind of digging, tunneling, and reproducing.

The wind easily picks up newspapers and cardboard, so I use organic matter - leaves and wood mulch - to hold down them down. Cardboard stays down the best and covers the longest. Later, anyone can poke through cardboard to plant or cut rows for crops. Newspaper are good for this too, but tend to dissolve faster, especially in a summer of torrential rains (last year in Springdale - 14 inches once).

If I had a brand new area to garden, I would carpet it with cardboard, hold it down with weighty stuff, and add all the organic material I could get for free - manure, grass clippings, leaves, etc. Some things are going to sprout the best weeds ever - like spoiled hay and grass clippings. In that case, cardboard alone is a good start when weighed down. We had great results from cardboard laid down in the fall and weighted with everything we could find, from logs to actual dumb-bells. The winds were howling when we got the Wild Garden started.

Some municipalities offer free mulch or compost from their gathering and storage of tree leaves. That would be a great opportunity for  those who blessed by such far-sighted town fathers. Midland Michigan would dump a truckload of free wood mulch when asked, and I had a blast wheelbarrowing that all over the yard. The kids next door, noticing the exotic cedar mulch, said, "It smells like Christmas."

The crepe myrtle bush was leafing out,
the logs scattered as we expand the rose garden.


Support Your Fungal Jungle
The earthworm is a shredder and mixer, an earth-mover of incredible energy and tenacity. But the real decomposer and feeder is the fungus. Its microscopic strands connect its food (like a rotting bird) to the roots of various plants, including trees. Fungus feeds the root hairs in exchange for carbon it needs to grow. Expert management? Credit the Creating Word for the software in each creature, directing its role.

Fungus is the primary reason why gardeners do not walk around their plants unless absolutely necessary. The fungal role is also the best reason for leaving the soil alone and not osterizing it.

My best corn patch consisted of a compost pit four feet deep, the corn rows mulched with piles of grass clippings over newspaper, but also mulched and shaded by Atlantic Giant pumpkin vines. The compost below had tree clippings, Christmas trees, grass, rabbit manure, and every last ounce of autumn leaves we could find. Shameless, I scraped slimy piles of leaves from the street.

Mix the compost? No thanks. I gave up on that early, especially when I saw how ardently the earthworms worked and wooed and won new territory. Mr. Gardener asked me yesterday if I was digging earthworms for fishing. I said, "I don't dig worms up, I plant them." He laughed.

We dig the holes for the roses before mulching, plant the bare roots,
then lay down cardboard and wood mulch.
The grass, weeds, and clover are my free compost.


Wood Not Hurt
Almost Eden also asked about my rustic fence and where I got all the logs for that project. I told him how I walked around and drove around with the right-sized logs and stumps in mind. The newest fence is from across the street.

Wood is food for fungus, and logs are havens for toads. Therefore, I agree with Queen Elizabeth in fostering fungal growth wherever possible. A patch of soil in the sun will grow plants. If the same patch is shaded with a stump, it will foster the growth of soil creatures, from earthworms to centipedes, milipedes, springtails, slugs, and more. Lift a stump and there will be impressions from the soil life in the stump and the soil. The toads like the shade and the abundance of food.

Two stumps sit in the middle of the mulched main rose garden. They are for the birds and visitors to perch on. I also have little lawn chairs for the delicate who do not want to share with birds. Beneath each stump is a zone of cypress mulch and newspaper or cardboard, many voids where moisture and air can feed a population of decomposers and predators. A Creation gardener simply activates the principles already instilled at the beginning. 


Before the maple tree garden bloomed,
the rose buds were forming.