Happy Birthday to me – one monarch planting site is done and nine more to go! Today I turned 50. It isn’t old anymore. Fifty is the new 30 – is what they say. Who they is, I don’t think anyone knows. But, they think my body is supposed to feel like it did when I was thirty after prepping, hauling, digging and planting. It wasn’t that bad. The truth is, I did feel great – maybe not my back so much – but my spirit was joyful. This was the absolute best present I could receive – the ability to help my relations come home.
Before beginning this planting, I first smudged myself. This work is as much spiritual as it is physical. I thought of healing for the land, for the butterflies and for all things. It is important to advise the land of your intentions because the act of digging is a disturbing, violent act – even if you are simply returning to the ground the plants that used to be there. Everything I do is interpreted through my indigenous cultural lens. It doesn’t matter what your belief system is; praying, thought, sending light, they are just other words for respect, thoughtfulness. As long as you are doing this work with respect for the plants, soil and ecosystem, the outcome of your efforts will be more positive.
At first glance, the above photo doesn’t look like much, maybe a patch of weeds. Look closer. You will see, in the foreground, the needle like protrusion of deer grass. To the right, in the corner in the foreground, you will see yerba santa. In the center mid-way, you will see narrow leaf milkweed. Eleven o’clock from that milkweed, you will see the silver shine of a silver bush lupine, and in the far background, the bushy salvia with red flowers. How did you do? Try again and you will likely see more milkweeds (See the grid below for close-ups). I planted these native plants among existing grasses because those other grasses are helpers. Their roots hold the soil together and help retain moisture at the site. If you’ve ever traveled in farmland areas, you likely will have seen barren, sterile looking fields with no vegetation. This is not the normal way of the land. Fortunately, there has been a movement among farmers for “no till” farming – where farmers are working with the land, retaining vegetation for healthier soils and maintaining top soil in place as opposed to in the air. Check it out. Try it with your own garden. You don’t need to pull every weed out and rototill to grow food.
Here is the planting map of the species I planted:
I placed the showy milkweed on the north side because they tend to like moister soil. This is the location where the water will enter the plot, and it is also on the north, cooler side. The marigolds are still a little too small to plant, but, with the longer sunlight and warmer temperatures, those seedlings are finally growing well.
It is a privilege to have the opportunity to do this work, and it promotes sanity with the State in covid lock down.