The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Puddle Glums Debate the Chance of Rain, Friday.
Just Before a Torrential Rainstorm.
"I Want Some Dark Clouds and Thunder!" Boom

 The Coreopsis jungle at Almost Eden.


Sassy and I stopped by Almost Eden on Friday. I let her lead the way, so she pranced down Joye, went past the fire station, and pushed on next door to Almost Eden.

Almost Eden was watering and Opie the Dog was tied up nearby. We discussed fall planting and the chance of rain. We were typical gardening Puddleglums about the predicted Friday rain. Although this has been a good summer, with moderate rains (too much last year) and short dry spells (unlike two years ago) - the storms seem to pass over us without effect, other than a ten raindrop warning following by muggy nothingness.

Coreopsis close.


The Western sky looked far too bright with white clouds, broken up by blue sky.

Almost Eden talked about hawks being back and making a lot of racket. The young squirrels and rabbits in August testify to the abundance of vegetation they were enjoying. Opie stuck his muzzle in the air and howled for attention several times. He and Sassy played canine tag a bit, with Opie still on his rope.

Sassy and I walked home - almost next door to Almost Eden Gardens and Nursery. In a fit of optimism about rain, I made sure all containers were emptied of rainwater.

The morning passed while I got Liberalism almost ready for Amazon. The finishing editor, Janie Sullivan, is a genius at making Amazon and Kindle happy so I can press on to the next publication.

Mrs. Ichabod declared the sky still bright with white clouds. The barometer had nothing cheerful to show me, such as a big drop in pressure. I said in my loudest voice as I went to look outside to look for myself, "I want some dark clouds and thunder!"

The rushing clouds to the West were black and the distant thunder rumbled slowly as soon as I said that. I came back to writing satisfied.

Soon the rain was pouring off the roof so hard that we were looking from behind a waterfall again. Do not laugh - I darted outside to adjust some barrels in in the back and my containers in the front. Cold rain is the best possible supplement for hot coffee, increasing the enjoyment.

"So you were all gloomy about rain, eh?" Mrs. Ichabod taunted me.

The beneficial results of rain nullified the effect on me, so I laughed, followed by angry glances that made her laugh. "You sure love your own jokes, don't you?" I added.

Many times I read these posts back to her and she laughs all over again.


The Effect of Rain
Our helper came by Friday morning to add shredded wood mulch to the cardboard carpeting a new area of the front yard. Mowing must decrease, weeding must increase.

The effect of rain on these layers of thick cardboard and wood mulch will begin immediately.

Grass, weeds, and all soil creatures will begin to grow in strength and numbers. Weed seeds germinate, grass stolons reach out for new frontiers. Soil creatures maximize their numbers, balancing each other as abundant bacteria means abundant microbes - and earthworms - enjoying bacteria. Earthworm egg capsules hatch and tiny threads of red wiggles turn into adults in a few weeks.

But lo, the heavy carpet of cardboard and wood mulch kills off the grass and weeds, anything green, and tilts the entire enterprise into decomposition. This area of lawn is a pre-positioned compost pile, ready to finish itself perfectly in time for Spring planting - my best idea since adding whipped cream to black coffee. To be fair, all my mulching ideas are from Ruth Stout, Jessica Walliser, and others, but they are my ideas once I adopt them for my own.

When our Army Ranger neighbor told me what I was doing wrong, I asked him, "How many roses do you have?" At one point his weeds were taller than his roses and I suggested a cardboard base to his planter boxes rather than rototilling and spraying. He had immediate good results, although Bermuda grass asserts itself just as strong on the edges and the middle in his roses as they do in mine.

An experienced Creation gardener is simply one who has tried and failed many times while gathering as much information as possible from others.

Compost is a lengthy process for gardeners, who never have enough. Creation gardeners can speed up a compost pile by watering it, by having more green nitrogen rich materials (like grass) in it, and by tossing and turning it. There are special drums and tools for this laborious tumbling or turning task, but the drums keep compost off the soil, which is where the soil creatures live and work. Aside - do you really want to reach into compost with a turning tool and move tons of soil and greens around? I think not.

Therefore, composting on the spot is my choice. In the past, I dug holes first and composted around them with newspapers, cardboard, and wood mulch. If a box of rose bushes arrive, I am not going to mulch right away and plant through the mulch. That is a bit tough. Later, the digging is easy and the earthworms as numerous as Internet scams, so I am trying to plan ahead.

Mrs. Ichabod is death on lawns and mowing them, loving flowers instead. Our neighbors, Mrs. I, and our helper all love Calladiums, so there will  be Calladiums next year too. I suggested we let some Hosta naturalize (spread like weeds) under the maple, and she was all for that. The Calladiums will not last in the soil, even in a mild winter (I tried). I will pull up what we have and replant next Spring.


Three Aspects - Creation, Engineering, Management

Creation itself is not enough of a miracle to show us the gracious power of the Creating Word. Anyone can make something to perform a certain function, so the research around ancient monuments often emphasizes or guesses what the tools were. Some pyramids are beyond explanation, but others crumbled prematurely - badly engineered - perhaps even bad copies of perfect engineering.

Engineering
But every single one of God's creatures is fashioned and engineered to perfection. One tiny example of this engineering is the way water is brought into a tree and exhaled from the tree - the Panama Canal in our own yards.

My mother had her sixth grade class build a working model - smaller size, of course - of the Panama Canal locks. That so impressed my friend George that he became an engineer. He told me that and said, "When I visited Panama as an engineer, the locks worked exactly the way we built them!"

In a tree, the water flows upward and the leaves have a role in the expiration of the moisture and carbon dioxide. But on a cellular level, the entrance and movement of water is so complex that I can only refer readers to gardening books.

We know that trees are the first evap coolers, something appreciated in the dry and scorching Valley of the Sun(burnt) - Phoenix. A few trees on the south and west sides of the home are worth a few air-conditioners. In the old days, they evaporated water through a fan to create a similar effect, which worked best when a bit cooler and drier - when not needed as much. ACs eat up utility bills and the savings of widows and orphan. Therefore, a few trees are worth thousands in savings, because the AC will wear old. The evap coolers will break or smell moldy.

Every higher level plant, basking in the sun, is engineered to handle this movement of water flawlessly - no small detail. If I had enough time, biology, and agricultural degrees, I could described all the carefully engineered features of one maple tree.

And yet, that complex engineering in a tree is nothing in comparison with all the creatures being engineered to work together, to keep one plant, one animal, one pest from taking over  the earth and ending civilization as we know it. Besides that, food plants are seeded by the design of various creatures, birds and squirrels alike.

Management
But we must pause and also consider the third aspect - Management. When man takes care of the land his own way, carelessly, greedily, always in a rush to get cheap results, the soil may blow away in the wind or float away from a little extra rain. He may poison the soil to such an extent - on purpose - that the moles are gone, the earthworms and soil microbes with them. He may ruin the land to such an extent that opportunistic weeds take over to rebuild the soil, as it will over time.

God manages the environment alone far better than man with all his agricultural degrees and chemicals.

Soon I will post my video of beneficial insects hovering around the Coreopsis. They were always there but most of us never saw them. They manage pests without us thinking about it or "seeing" them. We see tiny insects and think nothing of it, but those tiny Flower Flies and Ichneumon Wasps are doing the job of pesticides and providing the next generation of beneficials insects. Those smaller "house flies" on the flowers - what? - are Tachnid flies that are deadly for pests, not domestic pests.

We still have to pull weeds - thank you Adam - and prune - John 15, but that is the joy of garden work. We do less than 1% of the work and claim 99% of the results.