The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mulched Yards Hold the Rain - Five More Inches Fell Last Night

 God delights in using overlooked people and bad situations
to glorify His Name.
Dandelions quietly help the soil, provide fluff for birds' nests,
and offer super-nutritious leaves.
Man answers by poisoning and pulling them.

I was tempted to look at my wheelbarrow rain gauge, after all-night storms, which cut out the Internet. I could not find a pair of bad shoes to check the wheelbarrow. I only found two right-handed shoes fit for mud and water, so I was content to look out the back door and make a guess.

The backyard is under water. Fortunately, the rain flows down the sides of the house and down into the street. The wood and leaf mulches absorb all the rain and hold it, sponge-like, and keep the plants hydrated.

One old slander of wood mulch is - "The wood absorbs nitrogen, especially sawdust, as it ages or rots." Yes, that is true, but wood also releases that nitrogen. Nothing is wasted, as the Feeding of the Five Thousand miracle teaches. The fragments are gathered up rather than tossed away.

Organic compounds hold useful soil ingredients in the top 12 inches of soil, helped immeasurably by the soil creatures. I look at these organic ingredients as immobile (mulch, manure, leaves, banana peels, shredded wood). The following are mobile forms of organic chemicals:

  • Earthworms
  • Spiders
  • Beetles
  • Springtails
  • Ants
  • Larvae
  • Protozoa
  • Bacteria
  • Nematodes, and
  • The prince of all earth-movers - the mole.
When the soil creatures die - or as they die - they become part of another creature. Thus the Manager provides food for all others plants and animals, which themselves become food for all plants and animals.
The spider that eats the bug is snatched by the bird for its young, whose manure provides growth for the plants that host the spider. 

God is a careful and miserly manager, using every ingredient and creature for Every Day Low Costs (a Walmart motto). Unlike us humans, the creatures and plants go about their labor exactly as designed, with total dedication. Today Mr. Cardinal was going to the backyard feeder to bring seed for Mrs. Cardinal, sitting on her nest in the Crepe Myrtle. I would not go out in the driving rain. Sassy refused, too. But Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal were doing their jobs regardless of the nasty weather.


Some "nice try" additions to the soil will not hurt - Epsom Salts (as suggested by the Epsom Salts Council), egg shells, coffee grounds, and used tea bags. None of those things will make a significant positive difference. Minerals need to be converted to useful versions, so Epsom Salts will only benefit the producers -  but they are still a great ingredient for foot soaks.

Egg shells will not become a part of the soil unless used by birds in their crops, maybe by earthworms in their crops. They are not worth the trouble, but good for arguments. If gardeners want calcium for their plants, let the Dandelion herb grow and flourish - it mines calcium from the soil and provides a neat conversion, to bring calcium up from the taproot to the surface. Earthworms also create useful calcium with unique glands engineered for that purpose.

Bananas are the most frequently bought item at a grocery store (source - Walmart guru). We buy them regularly and toss the peels on the bird feeding area. That can be 400 peels a year, an appealing statistic. The peels dry quickly and become part of bug and earthworm food - a good addition. I do not think there is enough coffee and tea leftovers to make a difference, but I am adding de-caff ground coffee to plants as a mulch, for fun and retribution. I really dislike de-caff and bought it on sale.

Adding organics is more a matter of habit than sudden great ideas and a new idea just promoted on Facebook. Gathering leaves and bits of trees are habits that add up to a lot of improvement.

Our neighbor's adult daughter asked about how to help plants grow under a tree. I suggested bags of organic matter, like mushroom compost and mulch. Earthworms will lighten the soil by pulling it down and tunneling in the soil. The process is far more complex, but that is obvious part. She said, "We have a place where we throw our grass and leaves. It has a million earthworms we got from Mom."

I said, "Ah yes. Those are the grandchildren from the red wiggles I gave her for composting." So my initial purchase of earthworms led to their descendants changing the soil at the homes of the mother and daughter.

Butterfly Weed is an attractive flower needed
by the Monarch Butterfly.
The caterpillars also thrive on Milkweed.

Glad I Planted Before the Rain
Yesterday's effort assumed a rainstorm, but nothing like the one we received. I have 5,000 Buckwheat seeds being drowned, eaten, or germinating. Likewise, 1,000 Butterfly Weed seeds.

The old farming adage—
"One for the mouse, one for the crow,
One to rot, and one to grow,"
is true of fruits as well as of seeds.
And many variations in the source.

The new and old roses are getting warm showers, nitrogen compounds for their growth, and perfect water to hydrate them and the soil creatures.

I poked Hidden Lily rhizomes into the soil, and they are getting settled by the long rain. They were already hydrated by a night immersed in the rain-barrel.

  Hidden Lilies are my latest, all-weather find -
and the cost is low.