Posts Tagged ‘Talking to Plants’

A Glorious Pre-Autumn Show

Well, the plants say it’s time for another garden update, because they’re showing signs of Fall. We had a cold week here a little while back, with nighttime temperatures in the 40’s! Cool, crisp days, some nice, heavy rains. The plants and I all wondered if Autumn might be making a very early appearance. In fact, my bell pepper plant stopped producing, and “told” me it was due to the cold weather, even though we were nowhere near frost. Last night while having a little ragweed sneezing “break” from sleep, I learned via the iPhone that bell pepper plants stop producing when they sense temperatures below 65 degrees. Who knew?! Certainly not I, but in the future, I will cover my peppers if it dips below 65 at night.

Even though my sunflowers are also looking rather advanced for their age — kinda droopy like Fall — I’m grateful at the moment to have as lush a garden as I do. David and I eat fresh produce every night, immediately harvested before food prep, and most lunches and smoothies feature some kind of garden fresh produce, too. Many people have told me that their tomato plants kicked it in the cold weather — blight seems to like those dewy days that don’t burn off. I’ve had to prune some spotted leaves, too, but I have a different problem here: the tomato plants have grown so huge that three of them tipped over the back of the garden this week, despite multiple cages per plant, plus various booby trapped stakings and stringings. They’re still producing like crazy, though. It seems like every day, we’re eating, giving away, freezing and/or dehydrating tomatoes here. By kindly tipping backwards (as requested by me if they felt the need to fall over), they freed up a lot more sunny space for the rest of the “Bed Bed,” which has burst forth with even more color and productivity.

Lavender and friends

That yellow marigold in the back hadn’t been flowering, because the tomato kept shading it. Suddenly, she has exploded in blossoms, and the Dwarf Siberian Kale has never been happier. I love how the lavender, geraniums, marigolds, onion and cauliflower “trap crop” just love on each other in a rainbow of colors.

Nasturtiums have also taken off. They and the nearby parsley have doubled in size just this past week.

Nasturtiums have also taken off. They and the nearby parsley have doubled in size just this past week.

garden overview

Part of this week’s grind has been filling the rest of the “Guarden” bed, the white structure that will eventually have a cold frame on it. (No affiliate link. I just think it’s a cool product!) That thing takes 600 pounds of soil, and guess what? I hauled it and mixed it all myself. Sheesh! That was a lot of heavy, stinky “Chickety Doo Doo” work. Yesterday, while I finished up the rest of the loading, I glanced over at the “Bed Bed” (a repurposed Sleep Number Bed Frame that performs far better as a garden than it ever did as a bed!). I had a brief moment wondering why I’ve worked so hard to set up this yard and realized that I really haven’t even touched the permaculture aspects yet. I’ve just been trying to get the garden itself up and running. I wasn’t feeling particularly like a partner with Nature, but rather a bit of a crazy faery lady planting flowers and veggies all over the place. At just that moment, I glanced at the Bed Bed and saw a Giant Swallowtail butterfly happily sipping away on the zinnias.


I didn’t have my phone on me at the time, and anyway, I was coated in dirt so wouldn’t have wanted to photograph right then. Here’s a picture I found on Wikipedia, though:

Giant Swallowtail (photo from Wikipedia)

Giant Swallowtail (photo from Wikipedia)

This butterfly followed me around the yard as I picked up dandelion puffballs and carefully walked them to a collection bag away from the freshly filled Guarden bed. Then she would hoppity bop her way back to the zinnias, over to the explosion of color in the InstaBed:

Lacinato kale and friends

… and then back to the zinnias. I felt this butterfly was a “she” for some reason, and she kept me company along with the hoverflies who seemed most interested in my next project, preparing a medicinal herb bed for next Spring:

beginning to lasagna garden an herb bed, which will be mulched to high heaven later next week

beginning to lasagna garden an herb bed, which will be mulched to high heaven later next week

For some reason, those hoverflies really love that part of the yard. I don’t know if it’s the watermelon:

Jubilee watermelon growing in a crate

Jubilee watermelon growing in a crate

Or perhaps the happy cantaloupe growing up the trellis, also growing in crates:


In any case, the hoverflies zipped around me this afternoon, too, while I added sand, peat moss, lime and mushroom compost on top of the newspapers and cardboard. Hoverflies are super cool! They look like giant striped bees — these ones were black and white with a hint of red — but they don’t sting.

I haven’t had any trouble with bees or wasps. Last year, we had a wasp nest close to our little strip of garden on the side of our Madison house. They stung our neighbor when he moved our garbage can, which conveniently kept him out of my garden, where I had previously asked him not to tread. He was afraid of those wasps! He’d joke with me that ours was the only house on the block that he wouldn’t go near because “‘o’ them wasps!” I told him I’d just send a preemptive message, “Comin’ thru, comin’ thru, I mean you no harm,” and they would part like the Red Sea. Never had an issue with them at all.

This year, we have bees galore, mostly bumble bees, which are apparently, the most efficient pollinators, even above honey bees. In the front sunflower and bee-friendly bed, I often see twenty or more bees in a two square foot area that I’m trying to water. Every once in awhile they’ve gotten a bit angry with me for interrupting their meal, but I send a quick, “Hey! I planted these flowers, and if I weren’t watering them, they wouldn’t be here. So don’t give me any of that buzz, alright? If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be eating these flowers, because they wouldn’t be here. Got it?” Then they happily move on to a different flower without harassing me at all. In the back gardens, I often see too many bees to count sipping on the flowering oregano:


I somehow managed to get them to clear away for the photo, because in the past they’ve buzzed around my head and hands making me fear dropping my iPhone in a flower bed!

I also finally just let the arugula flower instead of pinching off the flowers multiple times per day so I could keep harvesting greens. We have enough greens, and if this arugula wants to make seed so badly, so be it! I will replant some in the new raised bed.


The bees are loving the arugula flowers, and now the nearby bush basil and Italian basil want to know why I keep pinching their flowers. “I’m not done with you yet!” I tell them. “You’ll just die after you go to seed, and wouldn’t you rather become a delicious pesto and have me honor you all winter when I savor your flavor from this summer?” As a matter of fact, they would — for now. Speaking of speaking to plants, I am reading a wonderful library book called “Old-Time Gardening Wisdom: Lessons learned from Grandma Putt’s kitchen cupboard, medicine cabinet, and garden shed!” Page 76 of Jerry Baker’s book reads:

“Talk to your plants!

“That’s what made me famous many, many years ago, and I still strongly believe in that philosophy today! …

“Believe you me, talking to vegetables, shrubs, grass, trees, and flowers is not a kooky or crazy thing to do. Any doctor worth his degree will tell you you’re not a nut if you talk with the living, growing things in your garden. …

“Grandma Putt said anyone who has been gardening for a very long time has to be a great plant communicator. Why? Because they are most likely reaping as much news from their gardens as there is in the newspaper they use for mulch!

“So, if you want to have green-thumb growing success, get out there and start gabbing with your plants … the minute they stick their heads above ground!”

I highly recommend this book, BTW. I wouldn’t try everything in here, but I’m finding all sorts of affirmations of things I just “felt to do” in the garden, including having faery bling and other metal things. One chapter is called “Electrify Your Garden” and describes an old method of using metal to charge the air in the garden, increasing nitrogen for your plants. This is especially noticeable after storms. That’s according to Jerry Baker, his Grandma Putt, lots of scientists and yours truly. Of course, the faeries claim it’s them making the plants grow so well as a thank you for flowers and bling. Whatever works. 😉

Anyhoo, just a little pre-Autumn beauty in the garden, which sustains me as I take on ever larger areas and challenges in this crazy old yard.