Maintaining A Garden with Chickens

I have to admit that it was NOT easy at first gardening with chickens in small yard, but it is definitely doable.  My garden has changed a lot of over the last year having had chickens, however, most areas of my garden have never looked better.  Despite the hassles, I now will ALWAYS have a few chickens in my garden to help me.  The benefits far outweigh the problems.  If you are willing to take a few extra steps to make them and you happy, a garden and chickens can peacefully coexist.  And on the flip side, if you are lazy about garden chores or making adjustments, they might ruin your yard and patio within a matter of months.

the chickens love to hop on top of everything. This was my first flock’s favorite spot to perch, my mosaic garden bench.

Here are some things that I do (or can be done) to have a nice garden with chickens:

  • Place portable fencing around the areas that seedlings are coming up, then remove it once they are big enough not to be destroyed by a scratching chicken.
  • Regularly clean up droppings with a poop scoop or hose in them into the grass.
  • Place permanent fencing around the vegetable garden
  • Secure chicken wire flat on the ground around the root zone of young plants until they are firmly established.
  • Plant more things chickens don’t like to eat.  ( my chicken resistant plant list)
  • Keep heavier breeds (like Orpingtons, Cochins, or Bramhas) so they can’t go over lower fencing as easily.  My Bantam Cochins can’t go over the fencing very well either.
  • Keep Bantams, especially Cochins.  Short Feathered legs and feet do less damage.  And with Cochins, I get a steady supply of fair sized eggs at about 1.3 to 1.5 oz each, unlike some of the other breeds.  The only downside for some people is cochins go broody often.  That’s usually not a downside to me.
  • Build as big of run as you can so they don’t have to go out in the yard as much during the day or as often.
  • Don’t get more hens than you really need.
  • Keep them in a movable tractor or other adjustable pen (with netting to protect them from predators.)
  • Plant more shrubs and perennials.
  • Avoid or use less fragile annuals.
  • Plant things that grow really fast like nasturtium or grapes.
  • Choose breeds with feathered feet so they scratch less (but they do still scratch some.)
  • And make sure your coop is attractive and fits into the style of your garden so you love looking at it!

Problems with having chickens in a garden:

  • They love grapes and will jump as high as they can to get them.  Fortunately most are on tall arbors, and there is still plenty for us up high.  They clean up any fallen ones nicely!
  • They will eventually poop on the driveway or patio if out a long period of time.
  • The big breeds scratch the mulch onto the grass, and it needs to be raked in back in before mowing.
  • They wake up early.
  • There is more work to keep the areas the family uses clean so no one walks in chicken poop.
  • We have to always make sure all gates are kept closed so no stray dogs get in, and no chickens get out.
  • I have to practice biosecurity when my chicken keeping friends come to visit or I come home from the feed store.  Usually this involves stepping shoes in a disinfecting solution or changing to designated backyard shoes before going outside.  I think hospital booties could be used to cover shoes, too.

Benefits of chickens in my garden:

  • I have the greenest lawn ever!
  • There are few to no weeds to pull under my trees or in my flowers beds anymore.
  • My compost is fabulous.
  • The chickens eat all the fruit beetle grubs, earwigs, crickets, and grasshoppers, and even a few spiders.
  • One of my chickens occasionally eats my slugs and snails (but I still have a few)
  • They clean up under my micro orchard and grape vines, preventing pest life cycles from getting established and damaging my apples and stone fruits.
  • They fluff the mulch and keep the soil friable in the beds.
  • They deposit droppings throughout the yard helping to fertilize.  I have not had any major problems with plants showing signs of burning from the high nitrogen content in the droppings because it is widely distributed throughout the yard by only a few chickens, not a giant flock.
  • They help clean out the vegetable garden of bugs at the end of each season when I let them in.

*Post updated in May, 2011

© 2010 – 2012, .

Surplus of Garden Produce

Volunteers harvesting and gleaning surplus backyard fruit for local food banks

A citrus harvest in an East Long Beach backyard

Like most gardeners, at different times of the year, I often have more than our family can use, with a large surplus of tomatoes, stone fruits, oranges, grapes, and more.  Instead of always giving it to friends and neighbors, the chickens, or having it go to waste, I donate it.

SoCal Harvest is a local volunteer organization in Long Beach, established to allow home gardeners to share extra produce with needy local families. Gardeners can plant an extra row for the hungry and donate to help provide healthy alternative to more than just canned food. It is a branch of FoodFinders, a non profit food bank that distributes food to over 230 agencies in Long Beach and Orange County.  They will accept dropped off home grown food donations at the Food Finders’ office at 2301 E 28th St #303  Signal Hill, CA 90755, (562) 598-3003

or you can arrange to have them come buy and pick it up.  In addition, they have volunteers come out and harvest a crop if the homeowner is unable to do it for what ever reason.  To find out more about SoCal Harvest’s fruit gleaning projects, to volunteer to be a gleaner, or to contact them about a fruit tree that needs picking, go to  http://www.socalharvest.org/donate-produce .

If you are looking for a place to start, but aren’t in the Greater Long Beach area, here are some links I have come across in my research.

Where to find programs for gardeners to share their extra vegetable garden or orchard produce and help feed the hungry:

Around the Country

Ample Harvest (Currently connects gardeners to 1,650 food pantries across all 50 states)  A great place to start and find your local food bank.

http://www.ampleharvest.org/index.php

Backyard Harvest (Paso Robles, CA; Moscow, ID, and Minneapolis, MN)
www.backyardharvest.org

Village Harvest (Silicon Valley, CA)
www.villageharvest.org

Plant a Row for the Hungry (Michigan)
www.growinghope.net/projects/plantarow.shtml

America’s Grow a Row (New Jersey)
http://americasgrowarow.org/

Around Southern California-

Inland Empire Urban Fruit Harvesting (Inland Empire)
http://urbanfruitharvesting.blogspot.com/

Harvest Westchester (
Westchester, CA)
http://harvestwestchester.org

Food Forward (San Fernando Valley Area, CA)
http://foodforward.org

Inland Orange Conservancy
(Inland Empire)
http://www.inlandorange.org/IOC-Volunteers.htm

Backyard Harvest (Santa Barbara)
www.backyardharvest.org

SoCal Harvest (Long Beach and Orange County)

http://www.socalharvest.org/

© 2010 – 2013, .

Black Soldier Flies- Turns trash to Treasure in our Compost

BSF, The black soldier flies we find look a little like a wasp, with black bodies and bright colored feet.

Black Soldier Fly adult photographed inside the edge of my compost bin last summer.

 

Warm weather has returned to SoCal because I caught a Black Soldier Fly in the house today.  Most people would say that the flies and larvae are gross! However, I was thrilled to catch it, and I promptly gave her to my neighbor who has been hoping to establish them in her own compost without having to buy them.  I also gave her a few scoops of our compost that has had plenty of the larvae present in the past. Each Spring through Fall, the compost is usually teaming with them.

Although they are kind of scary looking as adults, a bit like a wasp, the adult flies don’t bite because they don’t have the necessary mouth parts.  Black Soldier flies (BSF) and their larvae are not disease carrying pests like house flies.  The presences of larvae often help to repel house flies in the compost area, and ranchers and farmers use them as fly predators and repellants.  Black Soldier Fly larvae eat all types of food waste and they can reduce the volume by up to 95%.  Combining Black Soldier Fly larvae composting with vermicomposting (with red wiggler worms) makes the most efficient organic compost.  The red wigglers (Eisenia foetida) in my compost are always present, but I only seem to have an active wild Black Soldier Fly colony during the warmer months.   Here is a link with more details about Black Soldier Flies if you are interested in reading more about why I was happy with this bug: http://blacksoldierflyblog.com/black-soldier-fly-white-magic/

Black Soldier Fly, or BSF, adult insect with white legs and irredencent blue black body

Black Soldier Fly, or BSF, adult trapped in a plastic bag. It got lost in the house, rather than being attracted to the compost to lay eggs where the larvae will later hatch.

A black soldier fly larva, BSF, inside the compost bin.  They are disgusting at first sight and can be confused for house fly maggots

the gross looking larvae of the black soldier flies

© 2010 – 2013, .

Vernal Equinox- Sunlight patterns in the garden

The armillary sundial in the veggie garden. Taken in 2008

Spring has officially begun.  As a gardener I watch the pattern of shadows move across the yard throughout the year.  In December my Camellias were in full sun in the back yard against the house, and now they are covered under the canopy of the Chinese Elm tree again, where they will be safe from the harsh summer sun.  The vegetable garden is almost fully exposed to the sun again as well.  By June it will all be sunny, and hopefully productive.

The chickens also seem to notice the change in season.  My Buff Orpington is back up to her normal 3 to 4 eggs a week with the increase in daylight hours.  I have read that chickens produce the most eggs when the daylight hours are closest to 14 hours.

Here is a link I use to check the number of hours of daylight at different times of the year.  I like it because it can be set to individual geographical locations.

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/astronomy.html?n=137

© 2010 – 2012, .

Can cherries grow in Coastal Southern California? Yes!

About 5 years ago, I read about promising early results with newly developed low chill sweet cherries called Minnie Royal cherry and Royal Lee cherry. Well,  when I told my neighbor/ friend / fellow gardener about the new trees, she was up for the experiment and had a little bit of room. I grow all sorts of low chill fruit trees, but ran out of room myself for new stuff quite awhile ago.   After 3 years of her “testing” the varieties, it looks like it might be time to rip something out in my own garden next winter.  I would recommend these to anyone looking for a lower chill cherry.

3 year old – Minnie Royal and Royal Lee low chill cherry trees

Here is my review so far to date:

The fruits  of Minnie Royal and Royal Lee tastes a little similar to Rainer, but they look more like Sandra Rose or Lapins,  kind of a bright candy apple red.  The color is not deep burgundy like Bing.  Considering there are no other commercially available low chill cherries to compare to, I would rate the fruit on both very good.  You must have both varieties for cross-pollination.  We only get 250 to 400 hours of chilling in average years here.  This year the local CIMIS- weather station #174, recorded 323 chilling hours for winter 2009-2010.  Royal Lee has lots of flowers this year, so we must have had sufficient chilling hours for it.  Based on this, I would guess their chilling requirement is somewhere around 300 hours, but I have read different amounts at different sources.  Minnie Royal did okay too, with a bit less than a hundred or so flowers. The Minnie Royal tree started flowering first and had almost finished flowering when I took the first image in this post.  They both produced a couple cherries that first early summer, a few dozen cherries last year, and they appear to be setting a nice sized crop this year.   I will update again in the future as the trees mature.

UPDATE: April 15th, 2010

My neighbor’s trees have has a couple dozen cherries on the Minnie Royal that she has already started picking those.  Most of the Minnie Royals should be fully ripe in the next week or two. The Royal Lee cherry tree has about 100 cherries developing on it, but most are still green.

New fruit set and blossoms on low chill Royal Lee and Minnie Royal cherry trees in Southern California

Fruit ripening on low chill Minnie Royal Cherry tree with a grasshopper hidden in the photo

Lots of blossoms on low chill Royal Lee and Minnie Royal cherry trees in Southern California

Last summer – the two cherry trees planted closely together peak flowering. – when they were 2 years old.

 

Zaiger’s Inc. Genetics in Modesto holds patents on both of these cherries.  (Thanks for all the hard work and years spent developing the first low chill cherry trees for us coastal gardeners, Zaiger Family!) The first year they released the trees through Dave Wilson Nursery to the wholesale market and general public, they were in very limited supply, and sadly we could not get them for her.  The next year, she bought one of each, at a premium price.  They have now been in the ground for a little over 3 years.  They have come down in price a little bit since; I saw them both for sale at H & H Nursery in Lakewood for under $30 just last month.

Dave Wilson’s Nursery has been propagating a couple of other lower chill cherries by Zaiger Genetics recently, Royal Hazel cherry, Royal Edie cherry, Royal Lynn cherry, and Royal Helen cherry.  I will be keeping my eyes peeled for more information on these growing in backyard gardens over the next few years.  The flavor is supposed to be even better, but no specifics on the exact amount of chill available yet, except for Royal Hazel at 500 hours.  I error on the side of caution and stick with trees than need 300 hours and under.

This is where I check our annual accumulated chilling hours below 45 degrees:  http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/chillcalc/index.cfm

See Dave Wilson’s Nursery for more on the different sweet cherry varieties and fruit photos.  :http://www.davewilson.com/br10/catalog/cherry.html

For information about Zaiger’s Inc. Genetics http://www.davewilson.com/z_file/zaiger_intro.html

© 2010 – 2013, .

Our Local Havest Calendar

Average Local Fruit Harvesting Calendar*

listed in Chronological order:
  • Limes – Nov 10 – Apr 30
  • Strawberries  – Feb.10 – June 30
  • Loquats –  March 30 – May 10
  • Blackberries – May 8 – July 8
  • Blueberries –  May 1 – June 30
  • Boysenberries  -May 10 – July 5
  • Cherries – May 1 – May 31
  • Peaches – May 20 – August  15
  • Nectarines – May 20 – August 15
  • Plums – May 15 – August 5
  • Figs -(breba crop/ crop on last years growth)  June 5 – July 31
  • Raspberries – April 30 – October 15
  • Grapes – July 10 – Aug. 30
  • Apples – June 15 – July 25
  • Tomatoes  May 10 – November 30
  • Figs (Main crop figs) September 5 – October 31
  • Persimmons – September 20 – October 31
  • Pomegrantes October 15 to November 31
  • Mandrine Oranges-  Nov. 1 to Dec. 31
  • Apples-  Nov. 15 – Jan. 25 (light crop and timing fluctuates)
  • Lemons – Year round

* Calendar based on our fruits and the neighborhood trees, or other folks I know in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

More calendars of what and when things ripen locally if you are trying to eat in season produce:

The Center for Urban Education and Sustainable Agriculture at http://www.cuesa.org/seasonality/charts/fruit.php

Seasonal Chef at http://www.seasonalchef.com/cropchart2.htm

© 2010 – 2013, .

Plant Sales, Classes, and Garden Tours…oh my!

Local Spring Plant Sales, Classes, and Garden Tours 2010 – Scroll down for listings

When it comes to Spring plant sales and tours, I am like a anxious child anticipating Christmas morning.  I have had many of these dates blocked on my calendar since the fall.  I don’t always buy stuff, but I enjoy looking, learning new techniques, and seeing what’s out there.  Here is a short list of the sales and tours around me that I recommend or am interested in attending this year.

Seal Beach-One of the private gardens opened for the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour, 2009

MARCH

Monster Tomato and Pepper Sale- Fullerton Arboretum

March 18 ((members only day) through March 21.  9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Free admission.  Tomatoes and peppers $3.00 each. Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Rd., Fullerton 92831. Over 230 varieties of tomato plants will be for sale this year. Contact www.fullertonarboretum.org

Long Beach City College – Horticulture Department- Spring Plant Sale

MARCH 31 & APRIL 1, 2, 3,  2010
9 am until 6 pm.  LBCC Horticulture Gardens- Pacific Coast Campus, 1305 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.  Long Beach, CA 90806
CALL (562) 938-3092 for more info.  In the past, they have given you a free tomato plant if you bring your own wagon.

APRIL

Eat the Yard! Organic Edible Gardening Series

April 10th Saturday 9 a.m. – Noon or 1 – 4 p.m. (2 sessions)- Part II: Eyes on the Harvest” @ Fullerton Arboretum,  1900 Associated Rd., Fullerton 92831 Get the most out of your edible garden throughout the season! Learn how to best nurture your plants and keep your garden space continually producing. Gardener Jonathan Davis welcomes you back to his outdoor classroom at the Arboretum’s Organic Vegetable Garden to learn organic pest control, plant maintenance, succession planting, and seed saving.TWO SESSIONS: 9 a.m. – Noon or 1 – 4 p.m. Class includes gardening outside; a hat and outdoor clothing are recommended. $15/members $18/nonmembers / Full series discount: 3 classes for $50/members $61/nonmembers / Prepaid registration only. Call by Wednesday April 7th / 657-278-3407 Contact www.fullertonarboretum.org

Green Scene Plant and Garden Show

April 17th & 18th Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.    @  Fullerton Arboretum, 1900 Associated Rd., Fullerton 92831.  Green Scene 2010 promises to be bigger and better than ever, with many new exhibitors and products for sale. Admission is $6 per adult; children under 12 are free.   Contact www.fullertonarboretum.org or call 714-278-3407. Exhibitor opportunities are available until April 4th; call 714-278-4792 or email jmcgarvey@fullerton.edu  “Members Only” preview sale from 9 – 10 a.m. April 17th Saturday. *This is my favorite plant sale.

Water Conservation Education

April 21st Wednesday 10 a.m. – Noon with Gisele Schoniger from Kellogg Garden Products @ H & H Nursery, 6220 Lakewood Blvd., Lakewood 90712.  Space is limited. Contact 562-804-2513  to reserve a seat.   www.hhnursery.com

Southern California Spring Garden Show

April 22nd -23rd Thursday – Friday 10 A.M. — 9 P.M., April 24th Saturday  10 A.M.— 8 P.M., April 25th Sunday 11 A.M. — 6:30 P.M.  @ South Coast Plaza Bristol Street (405 Fwy exit Bristol St. or Fairview and go to Bear St. , Park Near Crate and Barrel), Costa Mesa 92626 Free. Hundreds of vendors selling plants and supplies; fantastic floral displays. Phone 714-435-2160 or www.springgardenshow.com

Fullerton Beautiful Garden Tour

April 25th, 2010  on a Sunday  from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The self-guided tour begins at the Fullerton College Horticulture Department. The entrance is on Berkeley Avenue, east of Lemon Street. Cost of map is $10.  Members of Fullerton Beautiful will receive a map for free, so please recognize yourself at registration.  The Fullerton College Horticulture will also be hosting a plant sale. Plants maybe left for safe-keeping while you attend the garden tour. Visit the FULLERTON BEAUTIFUL BLOG www.fullertonbeautiful.blogspot.com/  Any questions concerning the garden tour please call… 714-871-4156 or 714-526-2926 Information http://horticulture.fullcoll.edu 714.992.7135

MAY

Fullerton College Horticulture Dept.  Spring Sale – 2010

May 1 from 9 to 4, May 2 from 10:00 to 3:00, and May 8th from 10:00- 3;00
321 E. Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92832
http://horticulture.fullcoll.edu/index.shtml

Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour – 2010

May 2nd & 3rd Saturday & Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.. This yearly self-guided charity event lives on with a two-day tour of 40-plus gardens from Diamond Bar in the East to Long Beach in the North to San Clemente in the South. Donations collected at all gardens. Information www.heardsgardentour.com 714-566-4800  *I have visited many interesting gardens on this tour.  Some of the gardens are simple and some are extravagant.  Tour brochures are available at many independent local nurseries after Mid April.  H & H Nursery on Lakewood Blvd. in Lakewood, CA. usually has them available.

Backyard in Long Beach on the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour

© 2010, .

Dealing with Weeds

As a gardener, weeds are a fact of life.   Some weeds are worse than others.  My current battle is with burclover in the front lawn.  It has a velcro spiral seed following the pretty tiny yellow flowers.  At first glance the foliage looks like other clovers, until it sets seeds.  My next door neighbor has a lawn full of it, so I continually find it sprouting in mine in spots.

Some of the weeds found in my yard:

  • dandelion Taraxacum officinale
  • burclover Medicago polymorpha (prolific throughout our neighborhood and spread by pets and kids.)
  • morning glory imopoea (the neighbors have it in epic proportions and let it crawl over the block wall)
  • Bermuda grass Cynodon dactylon
  • Bermuda buttercup oxalis pes-caprae (I like this one and leave it is some areas)
  • Creeping Woodsorrel Oxalis corniculata
  • Lawn burweed soliva sessilis (spurweed)
  • Sowthistle Sonchus oleraceus
  • Creeping Spurge Euphorbia serpens
  • Crabgrasses Digitaria spp.
  • Nutsedge cyperus spp. – was a problem when I first started gardening here, but through diligent removal of the tubers and the rhizomes, I managed to eliminate it.

UC Davis has a photo gallery for identifying weeds as part of their integrated pest management program:  http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/weeds_intro.html

Organic Weed Control

  • My favorite weed killers are my chickens, but they are indiscriminate.  They scratch up any newly sprouted seed in the garden beds they have access to.  If they are enclosed in a fenced pen over the area, there are effective.  They did seem to enjoy eating the few patches of burclover that sprouted in backyard.
  • Hand Pulling and digging out tap roots works for things like dandelions.
  • Boiling Water essentially cooks the existing plants and their roots if it goes deep enough.  I like it because it is cheap, is readily available, and no long term side effects.
  • Vinegar sprayed on plants works best on the surface areas, but not always on the root systems.  Use vinegar during daylight hours for best results, the sunnier the day, the better.  Adding a tiny bit of biodegradable dish soap acts an anionic surfactant, thus making the vinegar wetter and stick better. I have read some folks on the internet recommend mixing salt in with the vinegar. I generally would not recommend using salt in the garden. Most yards around here have heavy clay soils, and adding sodium causes decreased fertility and impermeability in clay soil.  Vinegar is less effective on plants with tap roots like dandelions or rhizomes like Bermuda grass.  Vinegar can lower the pH of the soil and if you have alkaline soil that isn’t usually a big problem, but if it is acidic already, you could be causing other issues.
  • Corn Gluten or Corn Meal doesn’t kill already growing weeds or plants, but it works as a pre-emergent organic herbicide on the seeds.  I buy a big bag of corn meal and spread it out in the fall where I don’t want annual weeds to come up.  I usually use this on the lawn.  The bagged commercial versions of corn gluten sold specifically for the garden aren’t cheap.  Also, as it breaks down, it helps to amend the soil.
  • Newspaper– A thick layer, sprayed with water, and then covered with mulch is very effective at smothering weeds. As it decomposes it actually helps to improve the soil underneath.  This is my favorite long term solution for large areas and I typically do it to areas where I am starting a new bed.  In addition, it can be planted in immediately by cutting a hole, big enought to accommodate a root ball, through the paper and planting in the gap.
  • The only organic solution I have found for getting rid of Bermuda grass, is digging deep and slowly sifting out every piece of the rhizomes. Unfortunately, it is a necessary lawn grass at our home because it is less thirsty than fescue type grasses, but because it is so invasive I have a hard time appreciating its good qualities.  As soon as I turn my back, it creeps back over the edging and into the flower beds.  If there really are levels in Hell like in Dante’s Inferno, Bermuda grass will be on the level where evil gardeners are sent.

My feelings on Chemical Herbicides

I typically don’t recommend the use of them and I prefer to use organic methods, but I understand there are situations that chemical herbicides are necessary.  Glyphosate based broad spectrum herbicides (like Roundup) are very effective in killing plants, but they are toxic to birds and fish.   This type of herbicide stays tied up in the soil, especially soils high in organic matter, for as long as 6 months.  Rain and irrigation do not leach it from the soil.  It has to be broken down by microbes over time.  Based on these factors, I choose not to use Roundup.

If someone told me their only effective option is to use a chemical herbicide on an area, I would suggest they follow the directions very carefully, wear protective clothing and mask, and after applying it make sure to keep pets and kids off the area twice as long as instructions on the bag recommends, just to be safe.  Any shoes that walk on the area should also be left outside, rather than come in the house and track the chemicals on to the floors and carpets.

© 2010 – 2012, .

Saint Francis and Lawns

For many years, I have kept a  little statue of Saint Francis in the backyard to remind me to be thankful for what we have in our little home and yard.  We have been generously blessed by our Lord in so many things.  The feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi is October 4th, so I thought it was appropriate to post about this today.  His feast day is often celebrated with the blessing of the Animals in many Christian faiths.  This year, we took George, Cruella de Vil, and Joey with us this year over to our church to get them a blessing.  The children enjoyed the old ritual and the pets didn’t seem to mind the outing.

saint francis Lawn Humor

 
As the patron saint of animals and ecologists, I have asked for Saint Francis’s intercession often over the years.  When it comes to pets, we truly have been blessed.  Thank you for your prayers, St. Francis.

I came across this last year, and forgot how much I liked the sarcasm.  I thought I should post it since it fits in with my interests.

YARD WORK and LAWNS- AS VIEWED FROM HEAVEN (Humor)

(overheard in a conversation between God and St. Francis):
God: Hey, St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature;
what in the world is going on down there in the U.S.?
What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistles and the stuff
I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan.
Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought, and
multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms
attract butterflies, honeybees, and flocks of songbirds. I expected
to see a vast garden of color by now. All I see are patches of green.
. .
St. Francis: It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. They are called the Suburbanites.
They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and
replace them with grass.
. .
God: Grass? But it is so boring, it’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies,
bees or birds, only grubs and sod worms. It’s temperamental with temperatures.
Do these Suburbanites really want grass growing there?
. .
St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it has grown a little, they cut it….
sometimes two times a week.
. .
God: They cut it? Do they bale it like hay?
..
. St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
. .
God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
. .
St. Francis: No sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.
. .
God: Now let me get this straight…they fertilize it to make it grow and
when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?
. .
St. Francis: Yes, sir.
. .
God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain
and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.
. .
St. Francis: You aren’t going to believe this Lord, but when the grass stops growing
so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue
to mow it and pay to get rid of it.
. .
God: What nonsense! At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke
of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and
shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to
. keep the moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves
become compost to enhance the soil. It’s a natural circle of life.
. .
St. Francis: You’d better sit down, Lord. As soon as the leaves fall, the Suburbanites rake
them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.
. .
God: No way! What do they do to protect the shrubs and tree roots in the winter to
keep the soil moist and loose?
. .
St Francis: After throwing the leaves away, they go out and buy something called mulch.
They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.
. .
God: And where do they get this mulch?
. .
St. Francis: They cut down the trees and grind them up to make mulch.
. .
God: Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. Saint Catherine,
you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?
. .
St. Catherine: ‘Dumb and Dumber,’ Lord. It’s a really stupid movie about . . . .
. .
God: Never mind — I think I just heard the whole story from Saint Francis!

_____________________________________________________

If you would like some information on Saint Francis here is a link: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06221a.htm

© 2009 – 2013, .