Our Interconnected Habitat & Environment

I was outside earlier this morning looking over the plants.

As if there might have been a huge transformation from when I last looked. Which was yesterday evening.

I am the Mother Hen of plants.

In Our Interconnected Habitat & Environment, this is the red buds of a geranium plant on my patio

Every little change is progress. If there is a little bud or bloom, I am watching it closely day after day, and I photograph its progress.

What Gardeners Do:

We plant, we tend, we deadhead, and we water. And we are rewarded for our efforts.

As a child I watched corn come up through the soil and then shoot past me in height. I’d stand in between the narrow rows and look at the blue sky beyond the tassels at the top of the corn plant.

I was always anxious for the strawberries to form. Once pollinated, the flower petals would fall off and the yellow center would begin to grow. Then it would begin to look like a strawberry.

When it was red and ripe, it was ready to be picked. I’d pop one in my mouth and enjoy the sweet taste of it as the sticky juice ran down my chin.

Blue/purple veronica flowers in a pot next to Shasta daisies, with ornamental grass growing nearby.

I didn’t think I was paying attention when the gardening was done, day after summer day. Year after year. I don’t recall noticing all the weeding and tending that went into our garden.

But I must have taken it all in through osmosis and stored it for later use.

House Plants:

In my twenties, I became enamored of house plants. As time passed I would start to think about planting in the earth.

I wasn’t a very good gardener at first. Like everyone, you learn to garden through trial and error.

Then I became fascinated with herbs in my thirties.

I bought books to study the different herbs and their uses. And learned that you could not only cook with herbs, but you could also clean your home with them.

I learned that the strong scent of lemon or mint would repel insects and rodents. So I’d store that knowledge in my head and make use of it later in life before I resorted to the use of chemicals.

I think of herbs as the workhorses of the garden.

In Our Interconnected Habitat & Environment, this is a lemon verbena plant and a sage plant out in my apartment yard.
Lemon verbena and sage

There is merit in almost everything that grows in the ground.

Even Weeds Can Be Beneficial:

Even weeds. Weeds can be vital in our ecosystem by protecting or restoring exposed soil. And some weeds are a habitat for beneficial organisms.

Before using chemicals in your yard to get rid of weeds, just remember that everything in our natural environment is interrelated.

Run-off from fertilizers can seep into the groundwater and contaminate it.

Some people want yards that look like putting greens. But it all has a cost to our environment.

Fertilizers eventually seep into lakes and oceans. That then boosts the excessive growth of algae in the water, which decreases the level of oxygen for aquatic life.

Just remember that fertilizers harm the earth more than it helps your lawn.

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25 Comments

  1. I remember my grandmother gardening in our backyard when I was a kid, but I didn’t develop an interest in it until I had my first apartment. I knew nothing about plants, and bought many of the wrong kinds for my shady terrace. But like you said, I learned a great deal over the years, and take great pleasure in transforming my deck into an oasis each summer. It’s such a joy, isn’t it?

  2. I take quite a few supplements, including B complex vitamins, and also a garlic pill morning and night and usually mosquitos leave me alone. I take them for health benefits, the garlic does help me not to have much arthritic pain. Even though somewhat allergic to it, when I went off for a bit, the arthritic pain was not worth any other benefit, so I went back on it. It is true that they are drawn to some people more than others. For whatever reason. My main irritant is bees, not so much honey bees, but every other variety…they have always tormented me, getting in my hair etc, esp. when it was its natural color moreso. I have no idea how to get them to leave me alone. I am careful about what shampoos etc I use, so as not to smell like a flower etc too…so no idea…

  3. No chemicals used in my yard. A change in jobs necessitated a move to a different state a number of years ago, and I decided on a smaller home with smaller front & back yards. I removed the grass from my “new” sunny front lawn, and now that area is filled with roses, irises, phlox, peonies, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, butterfly weed, day lilies, rose campion, Queen Anne’s lace. Biennials and annuals are sown wherever a bare spot appears (primarily forget-me-nots and zinnias). All volunteer wildflowers are allowed to grow as long as they don’t “bully” the older, more established plants. I remove overly “enthusiastic” plants from time to time and share with family & neighbors. Hostas, hellebores & ferns are near the house in shaded areas. In the backyard I have a bit of lawn/grass that needs mowing from time to time, edged by shrubs and trees down to the margin of the wetlands that border my property.

    Lots of bees, birds and rabbits share the yard and visit, as well as skinks, tree frogs, peepers, an infrequent groundhog, and the occasional black snake. Thankfully, the wetlands provide more than adequate food for the deer and nesting sites for barred owls.
    My little home is perfectly imperfect, and I’m grateful for all that I have and am.

  4. Brenda, I sure wish I knew what medication you take that might keep the mosquitos from biting! If that’s what does it. Actually, when I was younger–up until I had chemo for breast cancer they hardly ever bit me and if they did the bites didn’t bother me much. Then one summer a year or so after the chemo this “allergy” or reaction started. Then, about three years ago I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder where your immune system over-reacts to infections and attacks not only the intruder but your own cells. My rheumatologist says that one in three women who’ve had chemo for breast cancer will develop an immune system disfunction. So, there you have it. I didn’t die from breast cancer but the trade-off is the immune system problems, I guess. I take a medication called Plaquenil which modulates the immune response. But it doesn’t seem to lessen the mosquito bite problem. I just report this information in case it is of interest or use to any of the others who read your blog. Like Gilda Radner used to say years ago on Saturday Night Live: “It’s always something.” So true, but that is Life and I’m glad to still be livin’ it!

  5. I have a garden around my back lawn so this year I have just cut the grass around it so that I can get to it but the middle of the lawn I have let grow and do its own thing. I am not sure how it will end up but I am hopeful I will see some wild flowers sometime. My husband was a little taken aback but he has got used to it now. Yes it is looking a little untidy because now some of the grass has keeled over! I am determined to carry on and just see what happens. We generally let the bushes grow too without trimming them.

    1. The wildlife will thank you. The elderly couple near me let their ornamental grasses turn brown in the fall, and they don’t cut them back till spring. That’s so wildlife, which is pretty abundant here, will have a place to go in the cold weather.

  6. We don’t use any chemicals on our lawn, not even fertilizer. It breaks my heart to see that Round-Up and other chemicals are still sold in all the stores here in the US. Round-Up is banned in Canada, Europe, the Middle East, etc. So our grass is mostly weeds, but we don’t mind. We keep our lawn mowed and it is what it is. We have a private well for our water, so yet another reason not to use any chemicals. I can’t imagine those chemicals leaching down into my well water and then bathing in it, washing our clothes in it, and drinking it.

    1. I know. I just hate it when someone mentions going to buy Round-Up. Talk about overkill. That’s like killing a fly with a piece of furniture.

  7. Great post and comments from your friends today! Mother Nature had a plan! Think about what feeds what. We need dandelions for the bees and they in turn are so important for our food. I love houseplants and everything outside. When I travel I enjoy looking at all the plants that don’t grow in my region. We have an amazing gift of herbs for medicinal and cleaning uses. I am getting my grandsons into growing herbs for medicinal and cleaning uses. We don’t grow anything outside because the HOA at their house sprays outside.

  8. My parents shared a garden with a neighbor when I was growing up. They planted on the left side and we planted on the right side. I remember having to weed the garden which I use to hate bc of all the creepy bugs in it! My parents also planted corn down the st where it was just a meadow. All of the neighbors would take some without asking or helping out, but my parents didn’t mind. They stopped planting the corn after a few yrs when someone got greedy and stole all of it. I think they were freezing it for the winter bc there wasn’t much left that yr and my parents depended upon it bc there was 5 kids to feed!

    My Mom has a green thumb too so she had flowers all around our house inside and out. She always knows when there’s another bud coming bc she shows me when I go over there.
    One yr I counted how many plants she had and it was over 100 flowers in the house! A lot of different colored violets plus other flowers!

    It’s raining here again! Have a great day everyone!

    1. My grannies spent hours in the hot kitchen during the summer canning veggies and fruit to put in the cellar for winter. And oh, were they good!

      1. My Nana and Aunts use to can alot every yr too and so didn’t my parents up until 2 yrs ago! Now it’s getting to hard for them to can bc the pots are too heavy! I wished a payed more attention bc now I’m getting interested in it and have to teach myself!

        1. When I had a berry plant and use to pick berries, I would either bite a pc of garlic or put some garlic powder in my mouth.
          When a mosquito buzzed around me I would breathe on it and it left me alone! Lol

  9. I long for a beautiful lawn like others in my neighborhood but I refuse to use chemicals to get one. It’s amazing to me how many people use those chemicals and fertilizers that contaminate the water even though it’s quite widely publicized that they are poisonous to people, animals and the environment. I guess the convenience outweighs the danger for lots of folks. And as long as people buy them the companies will keep producing them. Too bad.

    I have been sidelined with my planting and gardening this past week because of the mosquitoes. I am very allergic and have gotten several bites which itch murderously and swell into blood blisters and later deep scabs. Nothing helps much even tho’ I take an antihistamine and use an anti-itch gel. Frustrating as I really want to be out there planting and weeding. I’m hoping that the hot and dry weather of the last few days will kill the little buggers off for a few days. We’ll see.

    Happy gardening to all of you!

    1. I don’t know why, but mosquitoes will land on me, but they won’t bite me. They did when I was a kid. Maybe it’s some medication I take that they don’t like or something.

  10. I’ve learned to let nature do her thing. I worked hard to grow a hillside of wildflowers a few years back. The first 2 years they were magnificient! Then…dewberry began taking over the hill, choking out a lot of the other plants. The last 2 years, I’ve worked feverishly trying to pull up the dewberry. This year, I’m letting things go. The little white spring flowers are beautiful and the bees love them. And later on in the season, the birds will enjoy the berries. I’ll still probably toss a few handfuls of wildflower seed onto the hill, but I’m not going to stress about whether they grow or not.
    I’ve learned to appreciate my lawn full of dandelion, rogue milkweed and even the “you can’t get rid of me” horsetail. All of nature is beautiful!

    1. It sure is beautiful. The flowers I purchase to put in pots normally are the very ones that attract bees and butterflies and hummingbirds. The neighbors around me feed them. I grow plants for them.

  11. I’m getting ready to do some container gardening. I just want 3 small trees and a couple of pots of flowers. I’ll have to hire someone to do the labor but it will be worth it when I look out on the patio.. You always have a beautiful container garden~!
    Have a wonderful Friday.. It’ll be raining here but that’s a good thing with all this pollen.

    1. I have to hire many things I want done these days. From moving furniture to yard work to putting together things I order. You just get to the point where you know it’s better to just go ahead and hire someone.

  12. Such good advice, Brenda. And what most do not realize (and I only do cause my Grampie was a great gardener) but the only fertilizer he used was from my dad’s barnlot…whose cows were only grass and hay fed creatures…his veggies were to die for…he grew so much in his garden that my mom took big 5 gallon buckets of them all over town giving them away and of course, some of his neighbors had some too. His potatoes were the best I have ever eaten to this day. We lived near a golf course the last jaunt we lived in NC…in an area where there were really no places that were not near them. First time I mopped I was shocked…the well water came out BLUE in that quantity…we had it tested and technically was ok to drink…but we stopped drinking it…too much copper I think…from the runoff from the golf course nearby. Our friend who married a vet said that animals that lived near golf courses had 10 times the amount of cancer…hmmm…funny that word doesn’t get out eh? (As I recall, we gave our dogs water that we drank…so much so if out on a walk, one dog would NEVER ever drink from a puddle…heh!!) So if you have a choice, do not live near a golf course!! I enjoy these kind of blog entries, Brenda…good information!!

    1. It’s just so sad that these things happen when it doesn’t have to. I don’t think people realize that when they want their yard green/green and without weeds, what they’re actually doing in the long haul.

  13. I think most of us learn best by watching others do what we want to do and then doing it ourselves until we “perfect” our methods. I grew up spending school time in the city and summer in the country with my paternal grandparents and later, a paternal aunt and her family. My other siblings didn’t like it in the “country,” but I loved it. I learned how to cook by watching my grandma cook with a pinch of this and a handful of that, chopping, blending, beating, on a small real butcher block in the middle of a tiny kitchen. I sat on a stool and watched her bake, prepare great meals for holidays, and prepare regular meals for the three of us (grandma, grandpa and me). It was always hard to go back to the city at the end of August when school would start up again. I also learned to garden by watching my grandparents and my aunt – they were masters. The patience of those women – I barraged them with questions!
    My mom was good at gardening too, although since she worked full time all the years my 5 younger siblings and I were still at home, she didn’t have much time to dedicate to it until her later years when all of us were grown up and had moved from home and then she and dad retired. With no children of my own, I am passing my knowledge on to the young couple who bought the house next store to me, their first home. They are eager to learn how to care for a lawn to make it thrive, how to create a pretty garden and landscape, how to grow vegetables. It’s wonderful to have somebody to teach!

    1. Your neighbors are lucky to get someone with your experience to school them in gardening practices! Handed down generation to generation.

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