Sunday morning saw a nice round of T’storms just before sunrise. They were of the symphonic kind. Deep bass thunder like cannons with longer rolling sounds resembling surf coming in. Staccato counterpoint of brief downpours hitting our tin roof and subsiding only to flare up again later. No hail or heavy winds, just a nice bunch of rain full of life sustaining elements, minerals, and microbes. 9/10ths” here at the Dowlearn homestead.
There was a fine article on soil health in last week’s paper. I write about microbes often enough so I thought to throw my two cents worth in to keep that thought going. Microbial soil life is the cutting edge of the industry. A new thing to most of us as we were all raised learning soil chemistry instead. Problem is, most of this chemical use is harmful or disruptive of soil life. Since I can see worms, I look for them as a sign of general soil health. The idea that life below ground actually outweighs life above ground still boggles the brain. We need a special microscope and much better understanding to know what we are looking at. Yet the white threads of fungal hyphae are visible as are the toadstools and mushrooms they create. Got worms?...Mushrooms?
The recognized leader in this mostly invisible world of microbes that benefit or live symbiotically with plants is Dr. Elaine Ingham. Dr. Ingham is the head soil scientist at the Rodale Institute which has led the research concerning soil health worldwide. Dr. Ingham’s personal web site can be found at soilfoodweb.com on the ‘net. I like to check it occasionally to see what she has discovered lately.
One of the first big breakthroughs that impressed me was that plants (all plants) exude a fair amount of their manufactured chlorophyll through root fines to attract and maintain the beneficial microbes that connect (and protect) plant roots to each other (including connections to unrelated species such as woody plants to forbs and grasses). This is why dry molasses has become my favorite “fertilizer.” Chlorophyll is basically a sugar complex and molasses is full of sugar from sugar cane. No longer sold as an NPK fertilizer, molasses is now sold as a microbial stimulator.
On word of mouth, folks who use molasses in their home landscape have reported that fire ants have become few to nonexistent on their properties. Apparently the sugar or some other ingredient in molasses is stimulating a particular microbe that fire ants shy away from. Nematodes? I’m still waiting on the science that explains this but for now I’m trusting my customers. They have no reason to lie about it.
So the wet fall/winter has spawned a wet cool(er) spring and we that live in Texoma are the beneficiary. Going back to last year we saw 100 degree weather start the first week of May. Most meteorologists will agree that a wet spring will trend to a mild summer with scattered afternoon T’storms. However we dare not count on this and I am not gonna claim this as a prediction. Just stating what the pros have said lately.
Saturday I led a field trip at Lake Arrowhead State Park and the wildflowers were out in high numbers. The best we have seen in years. My friends in the Rolling Plains Texas Master Naturalists scheduled my yearly walk with new interns later in the education series at my request. May is peak season for natural native color so this one was the best so far. Unfortunately this being the final field event the turnout was low. Hope some of those interns were out fishing instead. It is, to say the least, hard for this old fisherman to drive out there and not wet a line but watching others and knowing the fishing is good is second best. Kinda…
I noted that Arrowhead and Lake Wichita were above 100% full with water over their respective spillways. It really does not get much better than this. Get out there and enjoy this awesome spring weather while you can. So far, I have only seen a few mosquitoes, some gnats, and no pesky biting flies…. Just houseflies. However, I have seen lots of predator insect species at our house plus the birds are tending their new chicks with high protein insects. Living natural pays big dividends. Hire nature to help and fire the chemical bug and weed spayers.
My planting for this afternoon will be postponed due to muddy ground so I will walk down to our beloved “mosquito pond,” (bar ditch) and throw some biologically safe bacteria (Mosquito Dunks) and check for fish, crawdads, and tadpoles. I may also net some “mosquito fish,” (gambusia minnows) from the koi pond and let them help us as well.
We have the right stuff for “black thumb” gardeners, collectors, and pros. Nila garnered a third place and a few honorable mentions at the Benson Iris Society competition. She is stoked so I figure to plant more iris later this year. Enjoy this spring and mark it as a good’un. Hope to see you all in person… Soon