Assorted Opinions: Personal Territory
Some Environmental Don’ts
But not of the scolding variety.
If you have a little patch of yard, or a double-sized lot, or some rural acreage, you can help the planet by employing tactics that are as easy as doing nothing.
One: Mow grass about a third as often as you might, especially if you’re a once-a-weeker. (Community rules allowing.)
A few things are going on here. Short grass grows roots that are shallow and thatchy. The roots aren’t healthy enough to penetrate deeply, helping the harder-working dandelions, clovers, and violets condition the soil; and can’t, under summer stresses, provide for even their own needs. The grass turns brown. If you choose to water and chemically treat your lawn, you make more work for yourself, and with bad consequences for the micro-ecosystem under your watch.
Cut your basic labor at the outset, and you won’t need to do these additional jobs. What else do you gain? Longer grass retains morning dew, keeps the ground cooler and moister close to its surface, matures a crop of seed…all of which are habitat features for tiny things—insects, spiders, centipedes, birds, snakes, and small rodents (many of these last two are beneficial…and the odds are far greater you’ll never see them).
Two: Don’t rake leaves in the fall. (Again, if you can get away with it.) Up there in the trees, throughout the summer, insects we like (butterflies, moths, wasps…but even non-beneficials such as tent worms that birds we care about—cuckoos, warblers, orioles—eat), lay eggs, or pupate on the underside of leaves. The leaves fall, and if you rake them away or burn them, you’ve decimated your biome. Leaf mould makes warm winter shelter for those tiny things mentioned above, a breeding ground for useful microbes and funguses, nutrition for the roots of the trees the leaves fell from.
Three: Don’t bustle out with the spray bottle when you see your flowers under attack. Diseases and infestations come in cycles. Plants have evolved robust defenses (poisons, doubling down on reproduction…even pheromonally attracting helpers: insects that eat other insects). It may take a season or two of patience to see a shrub, or a stand of perennials, adapt.
I wouldn’t eco-bully anyone…why should you not enjoy a specimen (a desired plant that isn’t native to, or easy to grow in, your locality), if you like? Just remember that your outdoor space belongs to nature, and she doesn’t obsess about her looks. Anything that really can’t survive, can always be replaced with a better choice.
So there you have it, an easy summer-to-fall plan for making laziness a virtue in the garden.
A Poetry Inspiration Trick
You might have heard of blackout poetry, where you take a page from an old book and black out words, leaving those remaining to harmonize into poetry. But here’s an exercise that’s fun, and that can serve as a jumping off point for inspiration. It’s more a game than an end in itself.
Take a page of text from your notes or prose writings, and change the font color to white (or whatever color matches your background). Then select words at random and change them to back to black. Unlike blackout poetry, whiteout poetry can’t be calculated in the making. You’ll want to polish it up…but the illustration (above) gives an idea.
(2018, Stephanie Foster)