Paul and Nila Dowlearn-Owners of Wichita Valley Nursery. Paul’s recent books, “The Lazy Man’s Garden” and “Touch the Earth” are available at the Nursery, 5314 S.W. Pkwy, Wichita Fall, Texas.

The wood was still wet from last week’s rain. The fire was hard to start this morning. As I sat coaxing the meager flames, I witnessed a second coming. The cool season grasses which had come up back in September then died off during a long hot and dry spell were coming up again. Thick and healthy looking. So, I am optimistic that our wheat crops are doing the same. Most of these winter grasses we see every year are nonnative grasses brought here by European settlers. So is wheat. The wild card now is… Was there enough seed left to germinate and make a decent stand? We shall see.

Both Saturday and today were absolutely gorgeous fall weather with sunshine and highs in the 70’s. That tends to bring people outdoors. Mighty welcome after so many cold, wet, and cloudy days. Saturday at the nursery was a pretty good day. I hope all of you were able to enjoy these two nice days. If not, you have my sympathy. Come Monday, we are going right back into the refrigerator flirting with record low temperatures… Again!

Saturday afternoon I met a young couple who came in to buy trees with their two children. The oldest was a bright young fellow who looked to be about 10 years of age. Somewhere during our conversation his Mom told me he was learning about probiotics…. In grade school! I was elated to hear this. I asked her then if she had been taught such things when she was that age. She replied that no, she was not. I remarked that when I was that young the word had not even been invented. Signs of progress!

I have written two books in which I predict that the 21st Century would be about biology. In the previous century we had learned chemistry. We took some of Nature’s best products (especially medicine, textiles, and synthetic NPK fertilizers) and learned to reproduce things by combining the chemical construct so we could mass produce what was needed. This fed, housed, and clothed a population that was rapidly doubling, tripling, and basically growing exponentially until we numbered in the billions. It also sent us to the moon and wound up building the International Space Station. Now humans are living in space. Most noteworthy accomplishments… But only a few people at an astronomical (pun intended) cost.

Meanwhile back on Earth, your still growing population is now seeing the negative effects of the pollution that is a direct result of all this progress. We are literally eating it, drinking it, and breathing it (some of us are choking). So, and my thinking was when I wrote it down, that future generations will now be obliged to get back in touch with Nature to set this right. Sustainability can only be had through natural processes. The world we live in has limits. We must change in order to survive. Biology is the study of Life.

So, this one conversation with one young mother and her bright-eyed boy made my day. In my generation most of us did not worry much about diet until we got older and started having health problems. Now we have a new generation that is being taught the importance of diet and exercise at a very young age. Biology at its best, knowledge is indeed powerful.

Greta Thunberg is my new hero. It took a lot of guts to get up in front of the United Nations and say what she did. Certainly, she now has her critics. Some will say she is nothing but a misinformed, hot blooded teenager. However, what she said was backed by irrefutable evidence, sound science, and certainly every card-carrying biologist in the world. So far, there has not been a politician who has gone on the record to debunk her statements as not being entirely the facts.

Also, on Saturday I had an older woman (more my age) that was wanting help with her indoor (obviously tropical) cactus of some sort. During that conversation she related that she had it potted in soil she purchased that was “cactus potting soil.” As I sat listening on the edge of a large tree container, I told her we grow all of our plants, including cactus along with hundreds of other species and even a few tropical varieties, in the same basic soil. Compost mixed (more or less) with local sandy loam. Did you ever see anything resembling commercial potting soil where cacti grow in the wild? Of course not, in her effort to “do the right thing” she had fallen for an advertising and marketing scam. You really don’t need special soils or fertilizers for every type of plant you buy.

That ended well too, for as she walked out with her new plants she smiled and waved at me. I’ve not been invited to speak to the UN, but I do get to talk with local garden clubs and the general public. In my years I have learned a bit about biology myself. Getting old does have its perks as you finally observe and learn the truth from fiction or hearsay.

Ya’ll, get out and enjoy the nice days. During the winter months you just have to pick your day to get some gardening done. I’m headed back outside now. Come see us!!

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