Give the Time of Day

| November 11, 2014 | 2 Replies

Give the Time of Day is a motto I live by. Yes, I might be more productive, and successful, if I had blinders on, but I wasn’t made that way. Now that nurturing a garden is as integral to my being as breathing, it’s nearly impossible to pass by it and pass it by, or, not give it the time of day.

This happens a lot: I went out the front door at 7:00AM to go for a walk. It’s about 30 feet to the street. I made it to the sidewalk and looked down to check on the June bug grubs I had uncovered yesterday. To get more sun, I moved my pepper containers from the Back 40 to where my heirloom tomatoes resided all summer. The grubs were under the pots. Thinking that birds would LOVE those grubs, I put them on a paper plate at the end of the driveway. Lunch is served! Left on the soil they would burrow down and emerge in spring as June bugs to lay eggs all over again. If I had chickens that would’ve been a captive snack. California towhee are a regular sight in my garden. I figured those grubs would be bird food before I got up. Most of them were still on the plate, which surprised me.

Give the time of day - June bug, okra

L. June bug larva, R. Okra pods

Arrested there, as I was, contemplating this mystery, I looked to my right and discovered non-native Oleander aphids on the young pods of an okra plant. Well, it’s November, and I can’t expect many more pods to develop, and I’m from the South and I love fried okra, so I turned back toward the house to get a cup of soapy water. I spotted the corpse of a 5th instar Monarch caterpillar on another milkweed plant by the walkway. (“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall” according to the Center for Biological Diversity and I grow milkweed to encourage their numbers.) Since I found a dead one yesterday a foot away, it concerned me, and I bent in to take a closer look. I don’t know what could’ve caused this.

I washed the aphids off the okra as best I could. A milkweed plant is right next to it and they migrated over. All my Tropical milkweed is covered in these aphids, but I can’t chop it down because with Monarch butterflies daily in the garden, there are no doubt eggs on it. I went in for a closer look, and saw that a lady beetle larva was feasting on them. Did you know one larva can eat 1000 aphids, and that an adult lady beetle can eat 5000 in its lifetime? That amazes me! It pays to have lady beetles in your garden!

Give it the time of day - tomato, lady beetle larva

L. Michael Pollan tomato R. Lady beetle larva & aphids on Tropical milkweed

There’s a gap in the chain of events, but I recall next I was standing in my perennial bed with clippers in my hand and was snipping dead flower stems on one of my lavender plants, which is blooming again, when I spotted an all-white fungi, the likes of which I’d never seen. Whenever I see something I’ve never seen, I run for my camera. Turning this mushroom over, I found a clutch of sow bugs munching away, to the point it was unidentifiable! I’d thought a rare all-white, asymmetrical fungi had graced the Late Bloomer garden. Not!

Now that I had my camera in hand, I remembered to take a photo of a California native bush that died, the second one in this location, to send to the nursery for advice, and found myself picking dead leaves off of my rolling container of tomatoes on the driveway right beside it. There are several small tomatoes growing and since it’s not taking up garden space, I intend on keeping it as long as I can.

Give it the time of day - fungi, bush

L. Fungi with sowbugs R. Dead bush

At this point, I hear voices and look down the street and dog-walkers are exchanging greetings a house away. I move protectively to the sidewalk to ensure my ailing peas don’t get a blast of dog urine as they pass and the woman stops and compliments my garden. This happens a lot! She’s been in the neighborhood for two years and often walks by and enjoys looking at my garden. “This is what I want for myself,” she says longingly, currently living in an apartment. As we discussed what she might be able to grow in containers on her balcony, I realized we had a lot in common. I gave her my Late Bloomer business card, and afterwards got her connected to our Nextdoor neighborhood online community. Give the time of day.

By this time, I’m starving, so I come inside to make my oatmeal, and figured I could make lentil vegetable soup for dinner while I was waiting for the oatmeal to cook. Satiated with a hot bowl of Bob’s Red Mill Scottish Oats (my ancestors were from Scotland but I never enjoyed oatmeal till about two years ago), and marveling at the entirely improvised morning, I sat down to write this post.

Give it the time of day - soup, caterpillar

L. Sprouted lentil & vegetable soup R. Dead Monarch caterpillar

In case you think tweeting is some new dance craze, (no, that’s twerking), when you put a # (hashtag) in front of a word or phrase, like #GiveTheTimeofDay, it can be tweeted on Twitter and if enough people tweet it, it can start to trend. (If you care to know what’s trending on Twitter, click here, and if you think that’s entirely two many T’s in a sentence, click here.)

When I was writing an article for the local paper a few months back and I went on and on about how I stepped onto this marvelous train of discovery (I was very interested in bugs when I was in grade school, but back then we caught them and used formaldehyde and made collections), I had my editor husband read it, and he pulled out the red pencil and slashed through the first three paragraphs and said, “Nobody cares.” I knew he was right, people are busy today, and got more to the point. But, I hope to strike a chord with this post. If one person who reads this stops and gives the time of day, to a neighbor, to a plant, to an animal, to the dirt in their yard, then they #PayItForward. Did you know there is a global Pay It Forward movement?

Just as I was wrapping up this article, or thought I was, I received a phone call from a woman I met by chance outside City Hall in downtown Los Angeles at an environmental rally in early 2013. We hadn’t communicated in a year and half. She said, to my surprise, that she’s been posting my Late Bloomer episodes on the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Water Campaign Facebook page. She’s coordinating a Sierra Club hosted water conservation and sustainability forum geared to the Latino community in Long Beach this week. She wanted to know if I’d like to come down and speak about my experience growing food in my yard. Yes! I’m going to take seeds and my enthusiasm and #PayItForward. Some say urban gardening could slow global warming. If there’s any chance of that, I want to do whatever I can to promote growing your own food and saving seeds for food security in the future.

Give it the time of day - lavender, biscuits

L. Lavender blooms R. Homemade drop biscuits with raw cream and chokecherry jelly

By this time (it’s now 1PM), I’m caving in, so I bake some homemade organic spelt and amaranth flour drop biscuits (recipe here) to go with a bowl of the lentil soup. I smothered the biscuits in raw cream and homemade chokecherry jelly. A garden pal from North Dakota and his wife collected the chokecherries and he made it and sent it to me, and it’s amazing! Now, I REALLY have to take that walk!

Do you have community-building, #payitforward stories to share? It you are on twitter, please share this post with #GiveItTheTimeofDay @latebloomershow. Let’s start a trend!

Life is not in the big events, it’s in the details. Did I just make that up, or did someone famous already say that? Thanks for reading! Please share! – Kaye

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Category: Community, Pests

Comments (2)

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  1. I am with you Kaye I take a while to express myself guess I am not from this fast paced agew where everything can be said in a text … in fact I have never even done that . I love the bug photos, most people have never seen a ladybug larvae. Tghis is why I don’t spray even organic sprays that kill bugs during the growing season
    I do believe that if we all gardened either at our own place or a community garden ,the world would be a better and healthier place , especially if we practiced organic gardening with involves recycling all of our wastes and not using toxins on our plants or in our homes . It all ends up in our water and bodies . If we learn to cook, put food up as well as save seed, we will go a long way to assure food security in our country. I would love to see redesigned developments around organic farms where lawns were gardens and there was shared childcare eldercare and use of equipment as in some permaculture developments . Even the trees planted provided food (fruits and nuts ) for the people in the neighborhood. We can change how we live on this planet .. one garden at a time .

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