Nature is sensitive, mysterious, and intelligent. Be very careful about the chemicals you dump out on your yard because there might be consequences that happen in the environment that you never ever know about. If you knew what happens to other organisms that die from your chemicals, you wouldn't like it, and those killed certainly didn’t appreciate it. This picture taken by Mary Sevino with Bridgeport Discovery school this week in their woods. What is the purpose of inchworms lining up on the same leaf, chomping as one? Bet you don’t know/care. There’s a LOT we do not know about nature.
I got a great education at NCSU in Raleigh, NC at the four year horticulture school. I had great teachers who put their heart and soul into passing on to us kids everything they thought we should know to be good at our chosen professions.
One concept I always remembered was the faulty American agricultural habit of monoculture where the farmer plants thousands of acres of just one crop like corn instead of alternating crops in that same acreage to give pathogens a difficult time gaining the upper hand. Every perfect lawn is a shining example of monoculture. Alternating crops originates somewhere, I don't know where. Possibly dates back thousands of years, but I'm not sure.
Monoculture is easy on the farmer to begin with because he gets to program the land with just one cultural practice. Same seed/same spacing/same fertilizer/same irrigation/same insecticides/same fungicides- you get the idea. Farmer Bob buys all fertilizer/seed /insecticides/herbicides /fungicides from someone like Monsanto who suggested the practice to begin with. Conflict of interest???
Farmer wins. Chemical company wins. Consumer wins with lower prices for agricultural products. Just at the beginning of this practice, though.
Underestimate genetics, DNA, mother nature, eventually your crop will fail, and that's what is wrong with American mass agriculture. A crop like corn, planted by the hundreds or thousands of acres offers a pathogen an unlimited swath of foraging opportunity, an unabated feeding opportunity. Farmer sprays to kill, thinking nothing about genetics, DNA, or survival of the fittest. There's always some small percentage resistant to chemicals.
The problems start when the insecticides and fungicides and herbicides kill only 97% of the insects and fungus and weeds. The remaining genetically resistant 3% of pathogens reproduce to form a super strain resistant to the chemicals. Monsanto and others then develop a new chemical that kills 97% of those new strains then the remaining 3% reproduce a new generation of resistant fungus/weeds/insects. Cycle of this war continues to this day...you get the idea! That warfare has been going on since World War Two ended when chemical production intensified, and the toxicity to the environment, ecosystems, and our bodies has increased unabated.
(Not so) Funny thing is, though, that before World War Two, American agriculture lost 7% of all crops to pests. Pests and the pest’s pathogens had this parity where the natural balance of insects/weeds/fungus were kept in check by the warfare that occurred between those naturally-occurring enemies without human intervention! Everything had a natural balance.
Humans got involved with the nasty chemicals that we eat unknowingly in residuals today, and guess what??? American agriculture loses....... (drumroll) 15% of the crop to pests! We might as well have never ever used any chemicals at all and we would all be better off! Cheaper, no residuals in our food. Let nature fight the war! But we are too unintelligent, and greed rules the day.
So, it’s a proven fact that mother nature’s form of warfare in American agriculture was twice as efficient at controlling pathogens as mankind’s toxic chemical, short sighted, cancerous, and environmentally destructive method of farming.
Hindsight is 20/20. I learned all this in 1980-83, but nothing has changed, it’s only gotten worse. More field warfare. More chemicals. More cancer. Let’s not even discuss the environmental devastation wreaked by chemical companies, farmers, and (yes- US) the consumer for demanding the “perfect “ flawless apple.
Fast forward to the point of my story- the classic American lawn-Environmental destruction at it's best. American agricultural monoculture shrunk down to fit on your property. All the above dissertation about discarding biodiversity in favor of the “man knows best” theory of managing land. Only problem is, though, that we do not know best. Nature does.
I was mowing my lawn the other day and I looked down and saw weeds. Mainly clover. I said to myself “biodiversity,” my education coming back to enlighten me again. When I realized that biodiversity in a lawn is a GOOD thing, I was finally happy with the future of my lawn, and saw a clear path to having a lawn that is easier, cheaper, and better for the environment.
I've mowed it since and noticed honey bees and other insects buzzing around the clover happily pollinating whilst I polluted the atmosphere mowing the lawn. A few weeks have passed as the dim light bulb over my head grew brighter, and I've noticed that clover mixes with turfgrass nicely.
I thought back to college and my great teachers and decided that I was no longer buying into the American lawn theory of monoculture. I’m not using insecticides on my lawn ever ever again. No more weed killers. Probably no more lawn food.
Yet I certainly will apply clover seed and grass seed. Let my enormous lawn be a PART OF NATURE instead of an ENEMY OF NATURE. Sounds very strange coming from someone who has access to every toxic chemical known to man, but I now reject that way of life in favor of a more sustainable way of existence. Pics to follow, as well as any conclusions that I might derive from this test. I’m NEVER GOING BACK to having a polluting lawn... but with help from clover, it’s gonna look great!
Wikipedia facts about American agriculture:
If we apply more chemicals now than 1940, yet lose more crops than then, what’s the point? It’s totally illogical!
Im letting clover grow on my lawn. I welcome it. I embrace it. I’ll reseed with clover AND grass seed like they did in the 1900s.
Little known fact- clover has a love affair with a bacteria!! Scandalous! The clover grows. The bacteria grows. They meet each other. Hi! They say to each other. The clover invites the bacteria to suck on its roots in exchange for the bacteria donating nitrogen that it alone is able to grab out of the atmosphere. The nitrogen feeds the clover as well as surrounding plants growing in that same soil, and the clover in turn feeds the bacteria nutrients from it’s photosynthesis. This love affair, steamy as it is, is called a symbiotic relationship, unheard of in the human world where all humans know is pathogenic relationships- TAKE TAKE TAKE and never give back, and we wonder why there is this thing now called irreversible global warming.
In the old days, Americans dumped used motor oil down street drains- where else you gonna get rid of it? The oil worked its way through the water’s cycles, poisoning its way through various ecosystems. It’s still there, diluted enough so we can’t see it.
When four step lawn programs are applied on millions of lawns across our country, it’s like millions of oil-changing homeowners are dumping raw chemicals down street drains. Same thing, it’s just accepted because these chemicals are advertised and sold by companies we “trust,” so it must be ok.
In both the programs above, as with most programs, there are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and micronutrient loads that dissolve and run off in rain and irrigation events just like oil used to. Crabgrass preventers, broadleaf weed killers, insecticides add to the mix- following oil’s nasty path into street drains, streams, rivers, and eventually into the ocean.
Toxicity of chemicals is measured in parts per million. For a large organism like a human being, chemicals present in low PPMs won’t actually KILL us. Might make us diseased or sick, but it won’t kill us. Not so with microbes, single celled organisms, and bacterias. The smallest organisms WILL be killed, though. The next-largest organisms that feed on the teenyiest ones have no more food, so they die. So do their predators, and theirs and theirs. That’s the food chain.
Hi. I’m a salamander. When was the last time you saw me? Probably a long time- like DECADES. My kind is EXTREMELY sensitive to pollutants. We are easily killed by small PPM amounts of chemicals in the environment. Be careful putting chemicals into the environment, please. Otherwise, we might become one of the one million species that goes extinct because of mankind's bad behavior.
Me again. I totally realize that nature lovers like myself are in the minority. I’m older. I’m kinda well-educated, and kinda-relatively intelligent. I’ve reproduced giving me more impetus to care about my child’s child’s child’s future.
I am of the opinion that most if not all people need to be on board with the fight to maintain our earth, and when I drive anywhere on any road, I notice how an increasing percentage of people drive extremely rudely and aggressively, thinking of their own priorities as more important than anyone else’s. If these are our teammates in a war to protect our ecosystems, then I’m afraid the battle is lost- a realistic assessment of our situation. Environmentalism ain’t in the forefront of most people’s minds.
Your beautiful lawn comes with a price tag that you might never see with your own eyes, but it’s there, and what I’m offering is a possible alternative solution.
I am going to ask my grass seed manufacturer to make an “ECO-BLEND” grass seed that has clover in it, as well as selling 100% clover seed for overseeding on existing lawns. It’s one more thing that I can do to help other people come to terms with how insensitive American lawns are to local ecosystems.
CLOVER IN LAWNS- ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES:
little or no mowing
attracts beneficial insects-75% of our insects are gone, thanks to mankind!
never needs fertilizer
never needs herbicides (outcompetes other weeds)
lives happily in shitty soils
feels nice and soft with bare feet
immune to dog urine damage
seed is CHEAP
comes back every year.
cohabitates with turfgrass happily
not good in high traffic areas (who cares?)
stains clothing more than turfgrass (who cares!)
Spring/summer is here
Clematis blossoms shining in full glory this weekend. This long-lived vine needs to be planted in a hole that goes deep with a handful of lime in the mix. Full sun/cool roots is the order of the day for clematis. My mom planted one in 1976 and it flowers every year reliably.
My favorite plant ripening it's berries for some kid, bird, or parent to walk by and eat. Irrigation water beading up in what is left of the flower at the end of the berry. I've never seen this before.
Yellow dawn redwood absolutely glowing yesterday against a hot cloudless sky. Thought to be extinct, it was discovered about 120 years ago in China, and brought back to Boston for propagation and distribution. Grows tall and strong.
Pink buckeye at the tail end of its magnificent flowering time- very long lasting flowering tree. Native.
Wild white one flowering on Main Street.
Crepe myrtle shining without flowers
Bet you don’t know what this plant is on the left- you’ve never seen it before.
Who needs hot red flowers covering the shrub in summer when you get almost black glossy foliage all season long? Well, with this plant you get both.
Emperor 1 Japanese maple
There are two ways to look at plants with translucent foliage. One way is when the sunlight bounces off the leaves.
Sure, nice leaves-colorful too, but nothing in comparison to...
...when the sun shines through the tree the colors and contrasts magnify the colors and the spectrums. My phone camera just doesn’t capture what I’m trying to say.
My theory is that trees that have leaves are best planted on the east/south/western parts of properties so they can glow at certain times of the day and year.
Reflective trees like evergreens are best planted on the northwest/north/northeast parts of your land if possible.
Take silvery blue spruce for example. If you plant one on the south side of your land what you see for most of the year is the darker shadowy side of the tree while the shiny side is on the other unseen side.
That same tree planted on the sunny north side has the sun bouncing off the needles all day all year- that’s the best vantage point for evergreens.
Its these tiny considerations that come to mind sometimes when trying to figure out what to plant where.
Crepe myrtle foliage yesterday. Cool plant with stunning summer flowers and really attractive glossy maroonish leaves.
The sun came out FINALLY yesterday shocking my system with vitamin D. The sun didn’t heat up the air until around three, then off went the flannel jacket, down to two t-shirts. Maybe only one t-shirt today. Worst spring ever weather-wise, and last night was the first no fire in the wood stove night. We are finally getting our first load of veggies and annuals today.
I mixed up a batch of seed/soil for lawn repair in Monroe. This combo sprouts new lawns in days not weeks. Give it a try!
Its safe now to start your veggie garden. These tiny pots were started two weeks ago, and they’re s-l-o-w-l-y showing life.
Acer palmatum ‘Katsura’ absolutely glowing with vigor in yesterday’s sun. This tree’s foliage changes each and every day in minute yet visible ways.
Evolution engineered this flower with each structure serving some role in pollination and reward for the insects and birds that visit. Too bad I know nothing of any of that except for the fact that it’s pretty interesting to wonder about.
Why does the tree put thousands of tiny hairs on each flower’s petals? What function do tiny hairs serve? Who benefits?
What reward is waiting at the back back of the flower’s throat? Who goes in there besides hummingbirds?
Maybe if a greater percentage of humans in the world wondered about this stuff the environmental situation wouldn’t be so dire.
Coarsely serrated foliage of a hybrid jap maple yesterday afternoon.
Another “linearlobum” Japanese maple that replaced a star magnolia in our parking lot display yesterday. The star magnolia, however stunning when in flower, won’t shine again for another 48 weeks. Not a good enough tree for me. Magnolias flower for a brief time then you gotta wait almost a year for the tree to do anything again.
I found a birds nest in the Norway spruce. This bird species just makes flat mud nests with no cups. I think it’s mourning dove strategy. One flat nest I saw had baby feathers on it but no babies. First mourning dove hatchlings are old enough to go out into the world.
Weeping variegated kousa dogwood looking pretty damn good yesterday with it’s first full set of leaves. Flowers come in June.
Im a (not so) “common yellowthroat!”
I don’t pretend to be a naturalist. I’m certainly an environmentalist, but I could only identify about ten or fifteen birds by sight correctly.
So it was with great surprise that I saw this never before seen by me bird banging against the glass inside the nursery store window this am. I took a few pictures then was surprisingly able to catch him/her and let him/her free outside the confines of our building.
Not before I took that picture though. I’ve never seen this bird before. Never even heard of it. I held it really carefully so he didn’t wriggle free too fast. It’s heart was pounding out of its chest, and it’s teentsy body generated a great deal of heat in my hand either from its efforts or from extremely efficient feathers. I’ll never know.
My little bird experience comes on the heels of the UN report stating that humans are responsible for the eradication of most other life forms. This was on my mind as I carefully cradled this bird, admired its beauty, then slowly let it go knowing I would never see one again.
Bye little bird, hope you have a good life!