Why Did The Earthworm Cross The Road
Why did the earthworm cross the road? To see if a gardener would pick him up and put him back on the grass :). I find myself still doing that. It’s not the intrinsic value of the worm that provokes me, it’s a symbolic act of respecting all of the processes that go on in the earth that provides us food. The mysteries of decomposition and rejuvenation, recycling life through death, and bringing forth new life like an endless cycle. The death of a plant swells the microbe population, giving life to a colony of bacteria that feed the plants that have not died yet. The vast array of earth dwelling organisms and their interaction is a mind boggling fascination for many of us gardeners. That’s why we become mulchers. We get to feed all the wee beasties that are so busy feeding us. We don’t need to understand the incredible mechanics of it all, we just need to keep putting organic material on the ground and watch it slowly disappear. We contribute. We have become a part of the process that we admire. We have significance.
Weeds are coming back up in my garden pathways. Weeks ago I covered the paths with decomposed stall cleanings to a depth of two inches. I’ve always thought that when you take light away from a plant you cut off it’s energy and it stops growing. Apparently this isn’t so. The plant has enough energy stored that it can keep growing in spite of being in total darkness. Different plants have various quantities of reserves with, I imagine, legumes being the leaders. The choice of mulch plays a more significant role in weed suppression than I had previously imagined. Soft, fluffy mulches are not as effective as wet leaves or shredded bark. Your pathways need to be treated differently than garden soil. Cutting off oxygen to the ground by the application of wet leaves or too thick of a mulch is a bad thing, but on the pathways it can allow you a much longer time between refreshing.
I’ve discovered how to tell when the chard is ready to be picked. It lifts the lids up off the cold frames. The lids are only corrugated plastic, but that’s still a lot of pressure for a leaf. It reminded me of the weeds pushing up through the mulch on my pathways. Life finds a way. Plants are aggressive and determined survivalists, adapting to adversity in multiple ways. The spinach needs picking when it gets to the top of the wire tunnels because the birds can sit on the wire and peck through the bird netting. The small amount of damage they do is tolerable, but their pooping on it is not. Picking the chard that is covered doesn’t require washing, but spinach under wire takes a triple rinse. The kale is beginning to get some white flies so I’ve started shaking the leaves as I pick. This is the year of abundance for leafy greens.