Publisher’s Corner

Back To The Land
(Even In The Suburbs)

It’s amazing how connected we become with the land around us. Whether it be 142 acres in rural Missouri or 1/4 of an acre in suburbia — humans have a keen relationship with the flora and fauna within their immediate environs. Take for example our little plot of land in the Innisfail Creek region of Webster Groves. Our yard and garden has become a sort of sanctuary for my wife and I. Because we have decided to follow an organic path, each day after work you can find me bent over pulling weeds from our lawn. I used to think weeds were greenery too, so let them be, until they began taking over the entire yard. Without the use of chemical herbicides, my job as weed extractor has become a steady gig. The biggest culprit is ground ivy, or as it is commonly known “Creeping Charlie”. This invasive little pest grows very quickly and slithers its viny tentacles along the ground underneath the grass and clover. If you dig your fingers down through the grass to the surface of the dirt, you can get underneath the vines and when you pull up you can get a good length of creeper. But as quickly as you pull it, it creeps back. So you have to be vigilant. I know there are some natural weed killers that you can use like vinegar, but it has become a personal challenge now. Me and Charlie have a date with destiny. Don’t think that I hate all yard invaders. I may be the only person in the world who likes Honeysuckle. Not the bush variety, but the Japanese vine type. We have it on our chain-link fence and it not only provides a green barrier between us and our neighbors, but the yellow and white blossoms are incredibly fragrant. But I do understand the problems that honeysuckle causes if this invasive plant is not kept under control. We also try to give the honey bees time to collect nectar from the clover before we mow. Sometimes we even leave a small patch unmowed during the bees busiest season. One of our neighbors has bee hives and I am sure these are his bees. My wife works her garden beds like they are newborn babies. She is not a fan of any weeds. She makes daily use out of our water barrel. The hose mostly gets used to wash the dog these days. Something ate the leaves off one of the rose bushes and we were worried that the family of praying mantises were not back this year. But we saw the tiniest little mantis flitting about on the front porch yesterday. Smaller than a matchstick at this point, I doubt his aphid eating skills will be in time to save the rose bush. But once he and his siblings mature, the aphids and many other insect pests will be on the menu. The tomato plants I got from the LaVista CSA Farm booth at the Earth Day Festival are growing by leaps and bounds. We will have a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes in just weeks from now. I have managed to regrow grass in our Border Collie & Wiener Lab ravaged backyard. The worn path from east to west fences has been filled in with a sturdy variety of grass I got from Greenes Country Store and Feed. Now that the summer temps have reached into the 90s I will have a tough task keeping it alive. But that’s the joy of living with nature, accepting the challenges it provides. I await the first cicada’s song that should come soon now that the fireflies are out. That’s the real sign of summer!

In Good Health, J.B. Lester; Publisher