Verdant View – October 2022

Simplified Sustainability

As a young person the month of October, at my mom and dad’s home in California, was always exciting. My brothers, sisters, and I spent most of the month planning our Halloween costumes, our strategic “trick or treat” routes, deciding who to include in our roving pack for that special night. My mother, Rebecca, would help make our costumes, make sure we knew who was going with whom, the elder siblings taking care of the younger ones. Rebecca was also one of the first sustainably minded beings I ever encountered. With six kids to raise, we always had the washing machine running. Instead of allowing the wash water to go down the drain like most folk, she would divert the wash water into buckets that she would set outside the bathroom.  Until I was nine years old I thought everyone used wash water to flush their toilets.  One of the biggest luxuries of my young mind was visiting friends’ homes and actually flushing their toilets! These lessons have stuck with me throughout my life.

There are simple ways we can “green” our lives, the most obvious being saving water.  Turn off faucets when not needed, check for leaks and fix them, use drip irrigation in your gardens instead of hand or sprinkler watering. Compost your kitchen waste,  recycle and reuse when you can, turn your AC down or off when not needed, wash in cold water, hang-dry your clothes, switch to LED bulbs (which are six times more efficient), plant trees strategically around your home to create shade and mitigate heat.  Just by accomplishing these simple changes in your life you will be assisting the health of our planet.

In October we begin to notice that in the garden things are growing slower. After a hot and frantic summer, we too, can be calmer in our garden activities: starting plants from seed, nurturing seedlings just transplanted, and beginning to harvest cool-season crops. Cleanup includes adding plant debris to the compost pile and storing pots and lumber and other leftovers away from the garden. The pleasantly cool weather is refreshing to work in after summer’s heat.  

What Is Planting by the Moon?

Planting by the Moon (also called “Gardening by the Moon”) is a traditional way to plant your above- and below-ground crops, especially at the start of the season. Here’s how it works:

Plant annual flowers and vegetables that bear crops above ground during the light, or waxing, of the Moon. In other words, plant from the day the Moon is new until the day it is full.

Plant flowering bulbs, biennial and perennial flowers, and vegetables that bear crops below ground during the dark, or waning, of the Moon. In other words, plant from the day after the Moon is full until the day before it is new again.

Old-time farmers swear that this practice results in a larger, tastier harvest.

What to plant in October

Sometimes the rains continue into October, but it’s cooler now and time for plants that don’t like hot weather. Nights are wonderful and balmy. The wildflowers are in bloom along the roadsides, at their peak in mid-October in Tapalpa and Mazamitla. The viveros have gerberas, fuchsias, petunias, pansies, asters, Arctotis, and calendulas. Plant sweet peas, stock, nasturtium, larkspur, yarrow, and viola seeds now for cool weather bloom. Set out gladiola corms. Also plant root vegetables and members of the cabbage family, if you have not already, and of course more lettuce and peas. Divide Shasta daisies and start cuttings of chrysanthemums for next year. Prune, deadhead, and clean up all plants in the garden, especially geraniums, which tend to become leggy and messy looking.

“Taking things slowly holds the promise of sustained influence.”

—Jean Schlumberger

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Francisco Nava
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