Where did May go? I’ve been considering all of the things yet unplanted and looking at the calendar in disbelief — those thirty-one days somehow gone in a blink — and wondering how it’s gotten to be June already. Sure, I can point to all the things that I have accomplished, but the weeds are still growing like crazy despite the lack of rainfall, there are poison ivy plants that need to be pulled before they get completely out of hand, and the annuals I purchased at the end of April are still sitting in their little pots.
Too many things going on, and not enough time for everything. The problem is, there’s a narrow window of opportunity for many plants, especially vegetables, that have a more specific growing period. So, it concerns me that the tomato and pepper plants in containers are already blooming and starting to set fruit. If I transplant them out into the garden now, will that encourage the plants to focus energy on root development rather than fruit? What a mess I’ve created simply by letting things go!
And then there are the milkweed plants that I started this spring from seeds I collected last fall. The whole reason for growing them was to provide host plants for monarch butterflies. Instead, these pollinator-friendly plants are just marking time in their tiny seedling pots, stalled out at just a couple of inches tall.
One of the things I love about gardening is that it gives me time to think, takes my mind on interesting journeys. Looking at those little milkweed seedlings got me thinking beyond the garden and to the idea of a “container” as a metaphor for other things in our lives. For example, there are the containers we provide for our children, our relationships, our dreams. Just as with plants, if we want our children, our relationships, and our dreams to flourish and grow, we need to continually resize and upsize the “containers” they occupy, to give them the space they need and deserve.
We can, of course, leave plants in containers of reasonable, appropriate size, and they’ll do fine; they just won’t reach their full potential. And in some instance, such as creating bonsai, small containers are essential to curb root growth. It all depends what your goals are.
In other news, I want to share some recycling tips/venues that I came across in the current issue of National Geographic (NG):
You can recycle your blue jeans! NG reports that “more than 11 million tons of textiles went to U.S. landfills in 2018 — nearly 8 percent of all waste.” Now, some retailers are collecting used denim that will be turned into building insulation. One caveat: to be recycled, jeans must be at least 90% cotton. Information at: bluejeansgogreen.org.
The corks from wine bottles can have a second life. ReCork has already collected over 110 million natural (no plastic, please!) corks to be reused as shoe soles and other items. Information at recork.com.
Do you know of other opportunities for reusing hard-to-recycle items? Please send information to me at one of the addresses below so I can share them here. Thanks!
Note: When the 17-year cicadas finally emerge in your area, please don’t freak out! Cicadas may be scary-looking and make an incredible amount of noise, but they pose no danger. They can’t bite. They don’t sting. They don’t feed. They won’t harm animals, wildlife, or people. They’re actually beneficial, because nearly every animal eats cicadas. They provide a great nutrient burst for nearly every type of wildlife.
Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener who lives in Kimberton. Direct e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send mail to P.O. Box 80, Kimberton, PA 19442. Share your gardening stories on Facebook at “Chester County Roots.” Pam’s book for children and families, Big Life Lessons from Nature’s Little Secrets, is available on Amazon, along with her companion field journal, Explore Outdoors, at Amazon.com/author/pamelabaxter.