The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Rain Predictions Disappoint - Rescue Plants.
Creation, Acid Soil, Sweet Soil. Good and Bad Aromas

Blueberry flowers are beautiful and delicate,
like the berries themselves.
Those who grow them will attract birds and squirrels.
So far I have eaten one blueberry in two years of growing them.
They are more productive in acid soil, so I mulch them with pine needles
and pine cones.

Springdale has perfected the feel of going to rain and yet not raining. Even the weather services are fooled. Last night, after threatening rain all day, Accuweather had us down for storms at 1 AM and 4 AM, but the pavement is strangely dry again.

I watered front and  backyards yesterday, often a guarantee of rain. The last time I did that, I had to run out in the rain to turn off the water spigot.

Nevertheless, I had fun with rescue plants. One is a young willow that was knocked down and almost uprooted, either by Sassy, another animal, or wind. It looked dried up, but some green was still showing in two places on the plant. I snipped away the dead plant material, anchored the plant with small logs, and watered it several times with rainwater.

Optimism about rescues came from recent efforts with rainwater. I watered Barbara Streisand into blooming with rainwater. I also brought Mr. Lincoln into better production by favoring it with stored rain.

Chaste Tree smells like medicine,
like many herbs.


The Chaste Tree was my rescue based on studying the plant. My instincts were to use rainwater on it when it drooped, but that made the sad look even more prominent. I finally looked up How To Raise Chaste Trees and discovered out three rules:

  1. Never water a Chaste Tree.
  2. Feel free to prune it however the gardener wishes.
  3. Grow the plant in the sunlight.
As I wrote earlier, I dug up the small bush from its shady spot and placed it in a shallow hole I dug. I placed the Chaste Tree in the sun, near the blueberries, in a place we could enjoy it. Unlike all previous plantings, I did not water it. Instead I pruned every branch to encourage root growth and mulched the area around it. Now the plant is leafed out everywhere and certainly taking root in its sunny, dry spot.

The Creating Word has fashioned plants and insects for every climate, so we can do well if we study the favorite locations and climates of the plant and animal kingdoms. Potential gardeners are shocked by the truth about plants, that some thrive in the cold and rain, even under snow. Others favor the burning sun. Still others, especially herbs, would rather be in poor soil, where they thrive and produce.



The dominant plants will diagnose the soil for the discerning gardener. They want acid soil, favor slight acidity (like roses), or want sweet soil (peas). Eventually the gardener has a mental database of what should go where in the garden. Do I mulch with pine (acid soil)? or dump the charcoal and fireplace ashes here (sweet, which is really base soil). Caltrate makes the soil sweeter, and earthworms have their own, unique Caltrate or calciferous glands.

Let us pause a moment to consider the work of earthworms. They are created and engineered to gather the elements of calcium carbonate and manufacture the chemical for the soil. They are the only animal to do this, but then, earthworms are almost everywhere. This effect is so powerful that rogue earthworms, set free by fisherman and other scoundrels who visit pine forests, convert the soil slowly into deciduous tree areas. This slow conversion is cause for alarm when people want evergreens to stay and perpetuate the habitat.



Longfellow - Evangeline
This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of old, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.
Wiki:
On August 27, 1829, Longfellow wrote to the president of Bowdoin that he was turning down the professorship because he considered the $600 salary "disproportionate to the duties required". The trustees raised his salary to $800 with an additional $100 to serve as the college's librarian, a post which required one hour of work per day.[27]


Sweet Soil - Less Acid
The conversion of acid soil spells doom for some plants and gives life to others. Sweet soil is a bit confusing, because the soil is not more sugary, but more base/less acidic. Of course, an acid soil does not dissolve plants. Acid soil is on the other side of neutral, just as sweet soil is the opposite on the other side of neutral.

Sweet soil is unlocks more chemicals for the plant roots to use, and clay soil has the most to use, plus the fine particles that provide more charges for ion exchange. I do not know much about chemistry, but I can pretend a bit by reading the basics. I thought chemistry was "loud boiling test-tubes" - like my Gilbert Chemistry Set - not black and white diagrams of compounds. My chemistry instructor and I were mutually disappointed. 

So this one creature, scorned or ignored by most, is the key to soil chemistry and fertility. And there is not just one earthworm, but many earthworm varieties, suited for their locations in various parts of the earth. One theory about the abundance of America is the transfer of hard-working European earthworms to the vast potential of our soil. Voisin's classic Better Grassland Sward, used for only $70, explains his theory. He also wrote, The Cow and Her Grass. You laugh, but you drink milk and enjoy ice cream. The delicate balance of nutrition in a herd of cows will make or break a dairy farm.

One act of God's providence is linked to another. The vast herds of buffaloes on the Great Plains created up to 20 feet of top soil, because the deep-rooted prairie grass fed and was fed by these herds and other creatures. When the European earthworms arrived, the prairie soil was unlocked for all time and became the most productive place on earth for food, the breadbasket of the world.

Slime molds clean up other fungi -
and they often look like plastic dog vomit.


Smells, Aromas, and Stinks
Our sense of smell is nothing compared to cats and dogs, but we easily discern the stink of decomposition, the strange smells of fungus and bacteria. The creatures of rot are attracted to those aromas and gradually sanitize them so that nothing is left but the pleasant smell of soil (coming from one distinct soil bacterium).

If not aromas, then other factors attract beneficial creatures. Sometimes chemicals are released by stressed plants to alert the beneficial insects. I understand that the sound of munching will also bring some.

"What's that?"
"Our favorite food is crunching on some flowers. Let's eat those monsters."

The shape of flowers will bring hummingbirds and the sweet fragrance of some will bring butterflies. But these creatures specialize too. Butterflies need specific plants to raise their young. The most obvious is the Monarch, needing Milkweed or Butterfly Weed.

Butterfly Bush smells like grape jelly -
no wonder the insects and butterflies love it.


John 1:3
These are only a few of the relationships between plants and soil, plants and creatures, plants and aromas. Soil chemistry really begins with microbes - fungi, bacteria, protozoa - another layer of complexity and mutual dependence.

Every layer is complex and mutually balanced by the actions of other players in the design and engineering of Creation. Expert management is proven by the way soil fertility asserts itself again, over time, once man has finished his own adjustments. Weeds will conquer weed barriers. Plants will overcome the toxic effects of man-made chemicals. Soil microbes will return to do their work - all without the knowledge or permission of man, the pinnacle of God's Creation.

Norma Boeckler's butterfly notecard.