butterfly weed

butterfly weed

The week began hot and humid. When I say humid I mean tropical humid. When I say tropical I mean dew points equal to that in the actual tropics. It is all because of the jet stream. When it slides south of Minnesota it pulls up moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and suddenly my shoulder-length curls spring up tighter, no longer touch my shoulders, and get a bit, er, wild. This is the only thing I like about humidity because I think it is a hoot when my curly hair goes crazy. Put a little leave-in conditioner on in the morning to help control the frizz a bit and go with the bounce, no use fighting against nature.

Just in time for the weekend though the jet stream moved north and sent us dry, cool Canadian breezes. I love you Canada!

black cumin

black cumin

This has made working out in the garden delightful this weekend which is good because the heat and humidity and rain showers on several days has sent the garden into overdrive. Unfortunately the weeds went into overdrive too. So gardening has pretty much meant weeding.

But also harvesting. Pulled up some radishes that Bookman put into an awesome potato salad. This is not your alongside burgers and hot dogs kind of potato salad, this potato salad was a meal in itself. With some cold red grapes on the side it made a tasty lunch. Radishes from the garden, onion, potatoes, carrots and peas. My peas aren’t ready for picking yet but I have small pea pods. Maybe by next weekend. Next year we are going to try growing our own onions and a few varieties of potatoes you can’t get at the grocery store. We don’t grow our own carrots. Lordy, we eat so many of them that my entire garden would have to be nothing but carrots. But anyway, seriously good potato salad.

We’ve also harvested spinach this past week and will pick some more today for a big green dinner salad. Might be able to take some fresh lettuce to add to our store-bought lettuce too. Yum.

purple beans

purple beans

People think I am a little bonkers because I enjoy weeding. It isn’t the weeding so much, though there is something satisfying in that too, but the kneeling outdoors, close to the ground, touching the dirt. It’s meditative. Kneeling is also an act of worship, of prayer, of submission. By kneeling in my garden I feel part of something larger. Like a good pagan, my garden is my church and Nature is my god. It’s not for nothing that Christians often refer to God as a gardener. Even Margaret Atwood in her books Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood has a radical group called “God’s Gardeners.”

Kneeling in my garden and weeding also helps me learn about what is going on in it. So often the things that really matter

yellow beans

yellow beans

to a garden are small and if you don’t pay attention you will miss them. Like I discovered I have lots of tiny little baby crickets in the wood chip mulch around my veggie beds. Crickets are good food for bigger insects like spiders as well as birds and reptiles. I don’t have any lizards or toads in my garden — yet — so the spiders and birds can eat all the crickets they want. Also, tachinid flies use crickets as a host for their larvae. Tachinids are good to have in the garden because they eat aphids but they are also important pollinators.

I’ve also been paying attention to bees this year and have seen a variety of different kinds I have never noticed before. Bumblebees are my favorite but I haven’t seen any yet, they usually visit my garden in late summer and early fall. But I’ve seen lots of small and mid-sized bees buzzing around with the tachinids.

black-eyed Susan

black-eyed Susan

And, I saw a gorgeous dragonfly. I tried to take a photo but they all came out blurry. The body was about 4 inches long (10 cm) and it had huge beautiful wings, mostly transparent but with stripes of black and blue. It hung out with me for awhile, sitting on top of one of the tomato cages while I weeded nearby. I also saw a pretty damselfly with a bright blue and black striped body. And a red admiral butterfly briefly visited too.

Sometimes before I go out to work in the garden I briefly consider putting on my iPod but never do. I am glad because nothing can beat the soundtrack of wind in the trees and the singing birds.

Missouri primrose

Missouri primrose

All this keeps me from having a Nature Deficit Disorder. As the National Geographic article points out, you don’t have to go to someplace like Yellowstone to get your fill of nature. As of 2008 more people on this planet lived in cities than lived in the countryside. Living in a city doesn’t mean one has to be cut off from nature. Cities need to design with nature in mind, creating green spaces, community garden spaces, allowing for garden friendly ordinances, etc. Minneapolis is a wonderful and supportive city when it comes to nature. Not long ago the Trust for Public Land ranked Minneapolis the country’s best big city for public parks. In Minneapolis 94% of residents live within 10 minutes of a park.

As the National Geographic article says, studies have shown “nature time” is good for you. It reduces anxiety and

blanket flower

blanket flower

depression, increases physical health, and also helps those with ADD. It also increases creativity and cognitive abilities. So be sure to get outside and enjoy some nature.

New blooms in the garden this week: black cumin (with delicate, light blue flowers), butterfly weed, black-eyed Susan (a volunteer from I don’t know where), blanket flower, creeping thyme, beans, radishes (it’s good to let some radish go to seed, they attract beneficial insects), and Missouri primrose.

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