Sunday, March 17, 2024

10 Fantastical Things Learned from the Garden - 2024 Vibes

"It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop."
- Confucius

Man in Hat
Pondering things learned

Apparently I'm on a two year cycle of writing a new top 10 things learned article.  The first one was in 2020 and the second in 2022 and now the third is upon us.  No intro is really needed so alas here is latest and greatest, top 10 fantastical things learned from the garden:

1. Stay on top of the weeds and they will go away with time.  Weeds are indicative of a soil health issue plus the ground does not want to be bare.  If you have bare ground, weeds will grow - this is the earth trying to heal itself.  If you plant something and weeds grow instead, you've got a soil health problem.  There are two main approaches to weed control 1) obsessively  try and pull every single weed or 2) let the weeds grow a little bit, then right when the seed heads start forming just cut the seed heads off, when your ready for the entire weed to be gone, just cut it off at the base and let the body of the weed decompose back into the soil.  This makes the weed spend all of its energy into growing then it can't reproduce so over time your weed problem goes away.  Keep an eye out for useful weeds - such as dandelions - which you can eat, make wine out of, or a hand balm, etc.  Just because it's considered a weed doesn't mean it's useless.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

2. You do not know everything despite what you think you already know.  Not even close.  Approach every day in the garden with a mindset of "I know nothing, what can the garden teach me today?"  Do that and you will learn an immense amount every single day.  The garden / nature has a infinite amount of wisdom it's willing to share with you... if you are willing to listen.

3. There is such a thing as too much compost.  Compost is jam packed with nutrients.  If you are producing a high amount of compost and you have a somewhat small growing area, it is certainly possible to add too much compost and overload the ground with nutrients that the plants then can't absorb.  Too much of a good thing... is a thing.

4. Every year is different.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  Regardless of what has happened in prior years, each new year is like pressing the reset button and starting with a blank slate.  Your past prior successes can suddenly become your biggest failures.  Your past prior failures can suddenly become your biggest successes.  See bullet point #2.

5. Working with nature is the only way to long term success.  Focus on mimicking how nature works in the wild.  Nature already has everything it needs - most of the time it just needs us to get out of the way.  In a controlled environment, such as a backyard garden, the natural ways of nature are severely limited so you just need to replicate / provide those natural patterns that occur in the wild.  Do that and your plants will be happy.

6. Focus on the soil health.  Healthy plants need healthy soil.  If they have healthy soil then your plants will be healthy and will outcompete the weeds, keeping them at bay.  This is akin to humans eating fast food vs. vegetables.  People who only eat fast food generally develop severe health issues over time - their soil is not healthy.  People who eat a variety of vegetables are generally as healthy as can be.  Obviously there are always exceptions to both.  Soil health = healthy plants.  No soil health / dirt = very sad plants.  There are always exceptions in the plant world too.  Everything starts and end with the soil.  See bullet point #1.

7. Build it and they will come.  Once a healthy environment is established the animal kingdom will flock to your garden, whether you like it or not.  If you have a healthy environment that is built with diversity in mind then the animals will be diverse as well and they will all keep each other in check - just as the plants do.  The animals are nothing to worry about - in fact they should be welcomed with open arms (see bullet point #5).  Mice are eaten by the garter snakes, the garter snakes are eaten by the eagles then the eagles fly away happy as could be.  Fun facts:  There was a bald eagle this year (2023) that picked up a garter snake out of the garden.  Other types of eagles and falcons are routinely spotted on my neighbors roof, peering down into the garden as well as the surrounding trees, also looking into the garden.  Goldfinches are frequent visitors to the sunflowers.  One year there were literally hundreds of goldfinches out there at all times, every single day, it was nuts.  Monarch butterflies are routinely spotted perusing the garden.  Perhaps the key to them not going extinct is just for them to simply have a safe and healthy environment (shocking, I know).

8. Failure is inevitable - get over it.  You will fail... a lot.  Instead of dwelling on each and every failure, focus on what you can learn from each failure.  If you approach it in that way, acknowledge the failure, analyze then come up with a new plan to avoid that same failure in the future, then you will only learn and grow which means it's not actually a failure in the long run.  It's a learning opportunity!  Also, spin everything so it's positive, life is much more fun that way.

9. Nature always repeats itself.  No matter how small or how large of a scale you are looking at, nature always repeats itself.  One minute you might be looking at the enchanting spiral of Romanesco then you glance over at a similar spiral on the sunflowers then later that night you gaze at the stars and realize that the milky way galaxy is a giant spiral of similar design too.  Nature always repeats itself and it is always willing to teach but only to those who are ready to learn.  See bullet point #2.

10. Diversity is key - there is no other way.  Healthy monocrops do not exist in nature.  If you're trying to grow monocrops - you will have issues - lots of issues in fact.  Nature is full of everything, everywhere, all at once.  Everything feeds off of each other.  If you remove that diversity then you are effectively removing health.  Diversity is the spice of life and is the only way forward.  Diversity increases survival.  Diversity promotes soil health.  Diversity is life.

No comments:

Post a Comment