But first a few pictures from the last couple weeks…
There are interesting side effects to the success I am having in building rich live soil. When I began gardening here 11 years ago I rarely saw an earthworm. Now I can’t even dig in a pathway without running into multiple worms! Worms are the favorite food of moles and relished by rats, possums and raccoons as well.
As the worms have increased so have the moles! A few years back I started using burlap sacks on my pathways and discovered this winter that when it’s wet – worms like to come to the surface under the burlap. I suppose it’s moist without drowning them and it’s safe from birds. But the moles discovered their ploy and turned my orchard pathways into a soft lumpy bumpy mess in their search for the worms hiding there!
Then I realized sitting by the pond watching a robin last evening, that the last two years they have spent the whole summer here in my garden, something that was the norm in every other garden I have had in Oregon. One garden up near Portland had the same robin family live in it every summer for several years! I knew it was the same because the male had a wing feather that stuck out oddly, because one of our cats had caught it and damaged the wing! I fortunately caught my cat in time and pried the robin out of his mouth. In spite of the danger, it showed up every spring with it’s mate, to spend the summer with us. I missed that here and thought it was because we were in the woods – or perhaps southern Oregon summers were too hot. Here they would just stop by on their way to somewhere else. But now there are worms! And we all know how much robins love worms! Who knew that a side effect of making my soil rich and alive would be robins! Each year I notice a new variety of bird taking up residence for the summer – or at least the nesting season.
And that doesn’t even touch on the number of interesting varieties of native wildflowers that have shown up each year lately. Or the frogs and dragonflies and other creatures that populate the pond.
A couple weeks ago I discovered something was eating one of my hollyhocks – knitting the leaves together with webbing as well! I found prickly looking caterpillars inside and when I did an online search on them found they are Painted Lady butterfly caterpillars! Their main “host” foods are hollyhocks and thistles! I was so excited! They ate nearly every leaf on that plant and worked on a few of the other nearby hollyhock plants a bit, but they are already growing new leaves! The plant had obviously evolved with this butterfly munching it so I knew it would be fine. And then one day I came out to see how they were doing and they were all gone! It was time for them to go in to the chrysalis stage but I have not been able to find out where! Seems like sometime in the next week or so I should see some Painted Lady butterflies fluttering through the garden (I hope).
I am always looking for opportunities to share my garden with other humans – without truly appreciating the fact that I am sharing it with many non-human lives as well! I have even had several visits to my pond this spring by mallard ducks and a pair of Canadian Geese! It was fascinating watching the ducks circle above the trees and then just drop into the pond through the small opening in the canopy.
Makes me realize how many lives we can affect with the things we do on the small patches of the earth we steward and how little we really understand the effects we have – hopefully positive ones.