Friday, January 18, 2013

LittleHUGE


When my days are done I will not go down in the annals of history. I will not have cured cancer, brought peace to the middle East, or stopped global warming. I reconciled myself a long time ago to living life on a much smaller scale.


Honeybees love the sweetspire 'Little Henry' shrubs.

I began to garden over 18 years ago. Tired of the bare, scrubby yard of our military housing, I longed for color and a needed a diversion from spending the day with a two year old. I wanted to garden as organically as possible, but aside from tilling cut grass into the vegetable garden and burning my plants with manure, I didn't know how. I accepted the necessity of chemicals as readily as gloves on a cold day. The organic offerings at our base exchange or local Wal-Mart were slim to none, so I chose what looked the least ominous and hoped for the best.

As my gardens grew larger and my skills deepened, my perspective changed and I began to see my garden as a habitat, whole and encompassing. It wasn't just a collection of pretty flowers and a bird bath, but home to the bluebirds who nested in the same spot every year, generations of butterflies, and a pit stop for migratory birds. My world was suddenly larger and my choices had become littleHUGE. Choosing to fertilize the lawn or gardens with chemicals or organics was a little decision, but the impact was huge.


A swallowtail butterfly caterpillar munches away on the curly parsley.

Some of the decisions I made were so small, I can't remember making them. The extra curly parsley fed dozens of caterpillars, the bronze fennel hosted legions of beneficial insects, and the rose of sharon, freed from the pesticide used to control Japanese beetles, sang with life, it's boughs lush with song birds and  honey bees. Of all those decisions, only the choice to replace the pesticide with milky spore was significant. The others evaporated as quickly as they formed, leaving only a cognitive shadow to remind me of my plans.

A monarch fresh from its chrysalis rests on the phlox.

As my garden became more organic, the impact of littleHUGE sang, flapped, fluttered, and hopped in front of me daily.  Seeing the garden as an ecosystem that lived or died based on little decisions I made was transformative  According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, an estimated 67 million birds a year die from pesticide contamination by eating poisoned insects. The weight of this information was overpowering and I refused to be a contributor. I couldn't save 67 million birds, but I could create a haven for those who stopped by. I could simply be as littleHUGE as possible.

This was originally posted in Feb 2011. My garden has become 100% organic, including our lawn. I am participating in the Grow Your Blog meme.

38 comments:

  1. The cultural impact of no chemicals in a garden is really amazing. Thanks for creating the haven you call your garden. :-)

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  2. I do want to make my garden fully organic but can't, because of the climate, we have many days of low temperature, and not enough compost to feed plants. Your thoughts about gardening are interesting!

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  3. Doświadczenia i wiedzy nabywa się z upływem lat. Kiedyś były środki chemiczne, teraz ich nie używasz i stworzyłeś cudowny świat dla ptaków i owadów. Pozdrawiam.
    The experience and knowledge acquired over the years. Chemicals used to be, now they do not use and have created a wonderful world for birds and insects. Yours.

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  4. Once again, you have given me more inspiration to try to make my garden better.
    I'm not totally there yet, but almost 100% organic, since we do have some bugs that only bother certain plants. I will continue to strive to use less and less of the insecticidal controls.
    Lovely close up photos by the way.

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  5. Hallelujah! I wish everyone could realise that the decision to garden organically matters so much. I simply cannot comprehend why anyone would wish to garden in any other way. Thank you for re-posting this. Our gardens may be small, but we can have such an impact simply because of the choices we make.

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  6. How rewarding to read how your little actions have had such outsized impacts. Others have done the same, and a network of organic or mostly organic gardeners makes all the little impacts bigger and bigger. Well done!

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  7. I am so excited to learn new things from you! YEAH! I love meeting people who like to dig in the dirt! So looking forward to following along with you on this journey!!!

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  8. So enjoyed visiting and looking forward to following and learning from you. I have been adding to my yard the last couple of years to make it more bird habitable. Still have a long way to go.

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  9. Very good you posted this again, I am a mostly organic gardener amd striving for 100 %, I will succeed.

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  10. You have fine destinations in gardening. I admire and appreciate it, Tammy!

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  11. I'm very impressed with your pontifications on organic gardening and its impact on the flora and fauna in your little Eden.

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  12. This post is nothing short of fabulous. The evolution of your gardening as well as your insights into that mini ecosystem speak volumes to the world! No, we can't save all of the world but small plot by small plot across the country and the world we might accomplish just that! The sum of the parts add up to greater than the whole and in this way before you know it we have created continuous pockets everywhere! Bravo to you and your successes - it really is marvelous and such an inspiration! Thank you for sharing and be sure that I will be back for visits often as a new follower.
    Hugs,
    Beth P

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  13. Well-done and well-written! It is so true that small efforts accumulate to produce grand results, in the garden and in so many other things too.

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  14. I thought I recognized this post. Good for you going completely organic and sticking with it. The results of your hard work really do show.

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  15. Great post. I do use some synthetic fertilizer in my containers but otherwise I am 100% organic. I find that a healthy garden doesn't need nearly as much intervention, and is so alive with many kinds of critters.

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  16. Great post! I missed it before. We do make a huge difference - in the little lives of the butterflies, bees, and other insects, worms, etc. Plus, as we grow and demand more organic vegetables, we are again making another littleHUGE difference.

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  17. It is interesting to look back and see how we have changed and grown as gardeners. It is a continually evolving process and the learning never ends! I have found that as I see the impact my decisions have on the surrounding wildlife gardening has become even more rewarding and I have moved away from just beauty for the gardener's sake to creating a habitat for those that live in my garden.

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  18. I enjoyed your wording on this post before AND now, Tammy. The littleHUGE choices do make a big difference. Thanks for putting it out there and inspiring gardeners around the world to make this effort. Our biggest step toward an organic garden was to use Corn gluten meal on our lawn instead of weed-and-feed. I doubt the neighbors even know we do this, since the lawn is every bit as lush and green as the others...and healthier, too. Great post!

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  19. We can all learn something by looking back at the decisions we made this year, last year and years before. Congratulations on going 100% organic, I am not completely there yet, but not far away. I am a lot more aware these days about what my actions does for my garden and for the wider environment, and even if I can’t save 67 mill birds either, I can do my bit too :-)
    Thank you for re-posting this, I didn't see it the first time around.

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  20. I learned we are certainly kindred spirits in our gardens and for many of the same reasons we have gond chemical free..part of the solution...so glad you reposted this as we learned so much about you from this one post!

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  21. You have a very lovely blog. I'm a new follower and a 'Grow Your Blog' participant. Have fun at the party!

    Evalina, This and that...

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  22. I'm your newest follower. Gonna fess up right away tho...I do NOT have a green thumb. But I DO have a funny bone...a d it sure was laughing after perusing your blog and seeing your humor. So ya got me :). Looking forward to reading more.

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  23. Your post totally demonstrates what I'm trying to get at with my post on adding beauty to the world. Not only by creating a beautiful garden but by making beautiful choices you have made a positive change in the world. It isn't about one person making a dramatic sweep across history, its about many people taking small actions.

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  24. Fantabulous! When I used to garden, which hopefully will commence again, I always tried to be organic, I have never used chemical pesticides and we have never ever in my life ever used fertilizer on our lawn... I don't have that guilt, nor that cost, on my conscience and it is wonderful... thanks for posting this, so excellent! Thanks for visiting my blog, just because you have no snow, doesn't mean you can't post on my No Winter Whining, feel free to join in! Cheers~

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  25. Your photographs are lovely and I look forward to learning about gardening from you.

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  26. I love this post! The fact that the garden is home to so many creatures is more important to me than how it looks.

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  27. I too don't use chemicals or fertilizers - it makes a huge difference!

    Popped in from the Grow Your Blog hop.

    Give me a visit some time ~
    thriftshopcommando.blogspot.com

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  28. Isn't it nice to see the rewards of your work. Every little bit helps.

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  29. This post is a good reminder to think globally while acting locally. The more of us who garden with a conscience, the better the world will be.

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  30. Hi there! I love your dream garden from google images and I would love to have something like this going on too! I might have to borrow that photo! You visited me yesterday from the Blog Party and I wanted to thank you. I am the one from SC where you said you once lived. I love your blog and your stories. I can tell this is one of those blogs (again) that I want to read from beginning to end because sometimes I am just kind of like that. I love your butterfly photos and here's a couple of links to my photos of the eastern tiger swallowtail that comes by every Summer:

    http://frenchlaundry132.blogspot.com/search/label/butterfly
    http://frenchlaundry132.blogspot.com/2011/07/around-front-yard.html

    nice to meet you! I love your blog and your writing! The boots and pj's made me laugh!
    I will be back for sure ♥

    sandy
    french laundry 132

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  31. Great post! I shared it in the Google+ gardening community.

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  32. Visiting you from Vicki's meme. I am now a follower of your blog. I would like to invite you to visit my blog too. www.everydayruralty.com Hubby and I have a farm. I used to run the greenhouse, but we have an employee who does that now. I love living on a farm and raising my children here. Please say hello if you stop by my blog.

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  33. I am right with on thinking of our little gardens as ecosystems but I'll take your description one step further - they are sanctuaries, for us, for the birds and for every other little thing that passes through, including the air! I also think we're being fed a load of greed-driven nonsense in being told the earth doesn't know how to thrive without pesticides and fertilizers. Long live organics :)

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  34. SO much green! I've been missing it... we're still dressed in Winter Whites here. Did you enjoy the blog party? I'm still trying to visit everyone.

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  35. I've heard that home gardeners with the good old "if a little is good, more is better" attitude are responsible for a huge amount of chemical runoff. It is nice to see what happens when we garden organically.

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  36. Great post. Your garden is very impressive! If Smilacena racemosa (solomon's plume) didn't work for you, you might want to try S. stellata (starry solomon plume). It does well with dry soils and takes some shade.

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  37. I too believe that each individual effort with regard to the environment can make a huge difference. We are on a septic system and so I also remind myself that everything I flush down the drain ends up in the backyard.

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