Usually I can shut my brain off when I’m ready for bed. But if there’s anything that occasionally keeps me up all night and pokes at my thoughts at different hours of the day, it’s Climate Change. It truly is a looming death sentence that scrambles me up, taking a toll mentally and physically. I’ve put off personal goals because I’ve wondered what’s the point? We may not be here in as little as 30 years.
However, I also don’t like the notion of doing nothing even though I don’t have the slightest idea where to start; the problem is so extensive and complex that it becomes an instant, overwhelming depressor. But then, a good starting place hit me one day in April at 4:00 am: I should learn how to garden.
(Why am I up that early? Because I bake for a living, I have no life, am a little crazy, and someone has to make everyone else’s bagels before 7:00 in the morning!)
The great thing about having no one to bother you between 4 am and 7 am is that I can drown into my work while tuning into my favorite podcasts. This time, I was listening to Gastropod (seriously, check it out! It is mega addicting!) and came across their segment: To Fight Climate Change, Bank on Soil.
Co-hosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley discussed how some very intuitive and innovative efforts are being made to restore the health of the earth’s soil―healthy soil stores carbon. They visited and spoke with scientists such as Dr. Asmeret Asafaw Berhe (who is a political ecologist and professor at the Department of Life and Environmental Sciences at the University of California), and farmers such as Yoko Takemura and Alex Carpenter of Assawaga Farm on the importance of having healthy soil to store carbon, which can be done if we change some of our focus from annual farm crops, which do a number on the health of soil, to perennial farm crops, which have the ability to keep soil healthy because it promotes the growth of beneficial microbes and other organic matter.
Long story short, it made me want to invest in some land and start a farm yesterday! My husband being the realistic one, however, borrowed some gardening books from his co-workers and told me to slow my role and start small.
During the last week in April, I assessed the mess that was our patio. We never used it; we just had a rusted pewter colored table and chair set I took from my parents 7 years ago. I used to have herbs there when we first got the house in 2017, but all of the herbs I had collected and somewhat cared for over several years had all died on me in 2018. I had given up on trying again―until now.
After doing even just some basic research, it turns out I had been letting my plants live in soil that wasn’t getting any additional nutrients after initially potting them years before. They were starving! No wonder they all died! The nutrients in the soil had been all used up! The fungal infections were real!
On my next day off, I cleared out the patio space that was littered with old, mushy leaves, dirt, pebbles, and hosed out a mosquito nest. I jumped because I basically opened a can of worms: literally worms, centipedes, pill bugs, more mosquitos, and what may have been a live mouse (it moved too fast), all got flushed out―I wanted a farm, and I was already hating the creepy crawlies!
If you already garden, you have total permission to laugh at me because I wholly own my 100% New York City upbringing where the only animals I saw were cute yorkies, smelly pigeons, and dusty rats, and the only bugs I saw regularly were cockroaches and flies. And aside from yorkies, I didn’t like the others!
During the last week of April, my neighbor from the house adjacent to mine helped me along my fear of carpenter bees, which I shamelessly run and hide from every single spring. They’re all over our neighborhood and they’ve created a concerning nest underneath my windowsill. She indirectly taught me that if I wanted to garden (let alone farm), the bugs were here to stay. And if I was serious about climate change, I definitely needed to appreciate them all and not just caterpillars and butterflies.
I wonder where all of this irrational disgust of insects comes from? I do like some. Believe it or not, I have no problems with spiders, grasshoppers, beetles, moths, butterflies (who really does, though?), dragonflies, ladybugs, and mantises. Maybe it’s because I find those particular ones pretty? (Yes, I actually find spiders pretty along with their dope webs).
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