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  • Laura Clavio

The Nature of Nature

Throughout this spring of confinement and social distancing I have delved more deeply into patio gardening. Here are some of the things I have learned:

(1) Grow bags are pretty easy to make out of lawn cloth and outdoor thread. The hardest part is figuring out how many ounces or gallons of soil a bag would hold. Sometimes I hit the mark; sometimes I didn't. A good tomato or pepper plant needs a bag that holds five gallons. A bag that measures about 18"X 36" comes pretty close, although the tomato might not mind if it is even bigger. A 12" x 24" bag is pretty good for herbs and flowers. I imagine it would also hold a couple lettuce plants nicely, but they are turning out to be a bit small for Swiss chard.

(2) Chipmunks have no manners and could care less about all the work you have put into planting any garden. They run up on the patio, dig into each pot that they like, upset little pots, and make general pests of themselves. They dig even bigger holes in the flower beds, By the way, they are also a protected species, so you should not harm them. So, what to do? I am trying to learn about what they don't like and take advantage of that. They don't like coffee, so I am adding coffee grounds and even the filter paper on the surface of the bags. We will see if that works. They also hate mint, so I am putting small mint plants around bigger bags. Squirrels are not quite as pesky as chipmunks, but they like to bury nuts in my flower pots and make a mess.

(3) Pansy seeds are abundant and easy to gather if you keep an eye peeled for when the little pods are ready to open. We will see how hard propagation is next winter.

(4) Succulent propagation is very easy. I may have a bumper crop in another month!

(5) I am the major source of water, but the business of nature is vast. Its work spans thousands of species, some that live just a little while, others that live centuries. It can make every pear tree in the neighborhood bloom all at once on the same day. Spectacular and beautiful! It gives me high quality food with a little effort on my part. I feel nourished when I eat what grows here. I feel a level of cooperation with the world around me. I feel embarrassed that I know so little about how nature works in spite of being so wholly dependent on it for my own sustenance, Blessed are the farmers who toil each day to grow my food.

(6) I am a human who needs plants, animals, minerals, water, and all the forms we are able to create from what nature provides. I cannot be separated from them. I AM them! An army of labor goes on each day from life, beings, seen and unseen that make this a place where we can live. I am unaware of most of this activity even though it is essential to my being. There is a lot of talk today that we, as humans, are all one. True. But, that is just the tip of the iceberg that goes to unperceived depths. We are only just beginning to see that integration goes far beyond color, race, nationality, species, atoms, nuclei. Our core is deep and our understanding slim.


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