Posted on 2 Comments

Finding Beauty in the Little Things

You would think that living in a forest amongst the Lodgepole and Ponderosa pines that beauty would be easy to find. And it is. As the autumn progresses the land here is dipped in shades of green, gold, red, and umber. It rained yesterday and the droplets on the trees reflect the rising sun, looking like diamonds amidst the pine needles and aspen leaves. However, I am not speaking of the obvious sort of beauty. The beauty that assails your senses and leaves you breathless. No, I am talking of finding beauty in the little things. Beauty in the less obvious places.

Have you ever looked at a weed? I mean, really looked at it. Have you noticed the whorls, the geometry, the beautiful simplicity it projects? I hadn’t either until I started taking photos of plants around my property. The perfection, the beauty of a weed is amazing. We may still want to remove them (though many are actually beneficial and/or medicinal) but we can’t deny that they can be lovely-especially when they are in flower.

Finding Beauty in the Little Things - a whorled weed from my yard.
A whorled weed from my yard.

Little Things Can Be Amazing

Have you ever sat and watched a bee? For 20 minutes? I have. I got caught up the other day marveling at the industry, the loveliness, of this tiny little creature. Many of the flowers are gone, but they have found the sweetness of the hummingbird feeders. The hummingbirds have since migrated away (a different species than I was familiar with in the Central Valley) so the bees have appropriated the feeders. I was going to take them down but now instead, will refill them just for the bees. Forget the bird watching. Now I am an avid bee watcher as well.

Once you start looking at life differently, finding beauty in the little things is easy. Take dust motes for example. I never realized how beautiful they can be when you watch them whirling about in a beam of light. Makes your household chores that much easier to accomplish when you can have something wonderous to look at around every corner. And trust me. In this environment, I’ll always have dust to marvel at.

Finding Beauty in Unusual Places

As I continued on my quest to find the beauty around me, I began to look in unusual places. At least they were unusual for me. I began to look at (and under) rocks, twigs, and brush. I found beauty in a petunia that had sprung up between the cracks of a retaining wall. The last owner must have planted petunias last year, giving us a splash of color to greet us this season.

Finding beauty - a petunia between the rocks in a retaining wall.
Last year’s petunias add to this year’s beauty.

I then found myself marveling at the moss growing on a rock. Moss you say. Is a rock really that interesting? It is! The textures, the shades of green and brown with a smattering of rust and gold. It looked to be as soft as velvet. It was, but a bit spongy as well. Yet, look at how lovely the texture it, how delicate the moss seems. Amazing!

Luscious moss covered rock.

Little Things are Beautiful

The vastness of the blue sky, the soft whiteness of the clouds, the seemingly endless forest scape – these things are beauty portrayed on a grand scale. But a single drop of water shimmering on a one needle. The flicker of a tealight candle. The tip of a warm, wet, black nose directly in your eyesight as you awaken in the morning. This are the little things that we can find beauty in. They are all around us. From the sun reflecting off of a puddle in the parking lot of the grocery store to the smile of your neighbor as they wave from across the street. Keep looking for the beauty that is all around you, hiding in the unusual, the little, and the weird spaces around you. It will make you smile, your heart sing, and bring you joy.

Blessings!

Posted on Leave a comment

The Witches Garden: Part Three – Maintaining

The Witches Garden: Part Three

In our last two installments we planned our garden and then planted our seedlings and sowed our seeds. In this, “The Witches Garden: Part Three” we will be discussing how to maintain your newly planted garden.

Our first step in maintaining our garden is to thin our newly sown seeds. If you’ve planted nursery plants, you’ll be able to skip this step.

The Witches Garden Part Three - newly emerging cilantro plants
The Witches Garden: Part Three
Emerging Cilantro plants

As your seedlings emerge, use the information on your seed packet to thin them out. The cilantro plants shown here need to be thinned to 6 to 8 inches apart. Thin your plants when the second set of leaves have appeared. Thinning your seedlings, gives them the space the require to grow to maturity without being crowded.

If you placed a mesh screen over the tops of your seedlings, remove it once the new plants are pushing up against it. Otherwise, your plants will bend sideways and their growth may be stunted.

Protecting Your Witches Garden

Maintaining your garden includes protecting your plants and seedlings from the attack of predatory insects. Snails, slugs, earwigs, aphids and mites love to munch on young plants, often with devastating results. There are several organic methods that can deter or eliminate these predators.

  • Diatomaceous Earth – This powdery substance can be used to both deter and desiccate slugs, snails, earwigs and other insects. Sprinkle it around your new plants to act as a barrier. Note: Be sure to get “food grade” product for best results.
  • Organic pest control products – There are several pellet pest control products to save your plants from the onslaught of insects. I recommend Sluggo or Sluggo Plus (registered trademarks by Monterey) for snails, slugs and earwigs. Both products contain Iron Phosphate and the plus adds in Spinosad. While the labels say it is safe around pets and wildlife if you have animals that may ingest the pellets, I would suggest placing them under pots and out of reach. Iron poisoning can occur if large amounts are ingested.
  • Organic Soap Insecticide Sprays – For aphids, mites and other flying insects that may insist on eating your plants, an organic insecticidal soap spray is best. There are many on the market – just be sure that the label reads “OMRI-listed and USDA-approved for organic gardening”. Soap sprays kill on contact, they do not penetrate the plant membranes. These sprays are very effective in eradicating pests, but they can also kill beneficial insects as well so be mindful.
  • Homemade Soap Sprays – For the ultimate in DIY pest control you can create your own soap spray. There are many recipes out there for these sprays, but I personally like to use a combination of Castile Soap, cayenne pepper and water.
Containers of Sluggo, Sluugo Plus and Insecticidal soap
Organic Pest Control

Weeds – Your Gardening Nemesis

Weeds are the bane of most gardeners existence. These persistent plants seem to pop up exactly where we don’t want them. Unfortunately, if you wish to keep your garden as organic as possible the best method to rid yourself of weeds is to pull them.

Note: Let your seedlings grow a bit before weeding. If you are unfamiliar with how your new plants look you may inadvertently pull them instead of your weeds. When in doubt, do a quick internet search. Information and images of your plants in all stages is readily available to you.

Pulling your weeds doesn’t have to be a chore if you do it a little every day. Weeding is actually a wonderful way to enjoy the sun, play in the dirt and listen to the earth around you. The act of pulling weeds can even be meditative as long as your entire focus is on the repetition of pulling out the weeds.

The most effective way of ridding your garden of pesky weeds it to be certain to pull the entire root of the weed. Merely yanking the tops of the weeds does nothing because the roots will continue to shoot up new plants. Loosen the soil gently around the weed and then pull the plant close to the root ball or tendrils. Weeds such as clovers may have an intensive root system so they may require a bit more work to eradicate. Be patient!

Keeping Your Plants Growing Strong

The Witches Garden: Part Three - a bag of organic all purpose fertilizer
Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer

In order to keep your garden blooming and thriving you must have two things: 1) Water; 2) Food – in the form of fertilizers.

Different plants have different water and food requirements. Always check your seed packets and information provided with your plants to determine how much water they require. Some plants may like moist soil, which means you will have to water more frequently than those who like dry or sandy conditions.

How you water is up to you and your location. Some areas get a great deal of rain in the spring and summer so your plants may only need an occasional hand watering. Here in the California Central Valley our summers are extremely hot and dry. I have many of my plants on automatic drip watering systems to insure that they are not getting parched under the summer sun.

Be cautious. You can overwater your plants. If your plants are yellowing or losing leaves, back off on the water. Conversely, if your plants are drooping and turning brown, they need more water. It takes a bit of trial and error to determine a successful watering schedule. A few minutes each day observing your plants should be all it takes to determine what they require.

Feeding your plants is fairly simple as well. Most plants will require additional nutrients every 3 to 6 weeks, depending on the type of plant and the fertilizer being used. Check your labels for amounts and timing, as each type differs.

Following the manufacture’s direction, sprinkle or spray your plants about three weeks after planting or after new seedling have gotten their second set of leaves. Fertilizers may have to be worked into the soil around the plant a bit. Water immediately after fertilizing to help release it into the soil.

Watching Your Witches Garden Grow

You’ve planted, watered, fertilized and then protected your new Witches Garden. Now is the time to sit back and watch your garden grow. Maintaining your garden doesn’t have to be overly time consuming or difficult. On the contrary, if you take a few minutes every day to maintain your garden you’ll find that you’ll spend more time enjoying and less time working.

Part Four of the Witches Garden – Harvesting and Preserving – will be coming in a month or so. Until then, may your garden bring you hours of joy, lots of beautiful flowers, herbs and veggies.

Blessed Be!