May 18 2011

Turning our place into a bee sanctuary has paid off big-time!

No blossom drop!

Every flower in the cluster set fruit.

In many years, I’ve not seen tomatoes set every blossom, as they have this year. There are few of the blossom clusters with a “hole” where there is no tomato forming.

I’ve been exulting each morning as I watch the bumblebees “buzzing” the flowers. As they taper off, and go to other flowers, they are replaced by little flying emeralds – the tiny, in-your-face green bees that happily gather the remnants the bumblebee left.

Not everyone is aware of the debt we owe to the bees. Pollination can be the limiting factor for many crops, including tomatoes. I have had years when I added compost, adjusted the pH with lime, fertilized, and carefully weeded the plants I set out, only to see many of the blossoms drop off, and the total crop wind up a sorry one.

Tomato flowers do not give the bees nectar, only pollen, but this pollen is gathered by the bees for the nutrition of their young. As they do so, they make a trade with the tomato plants by aiding the fertilization of the seeds that will make next year’s crop.

In another blog post, I’ll discuss the mechanisms of pollen release, which is different for tomatoes than most crops, as well as discuss the popular myth of “self pollinating” tomatoes.

But for now, I just simply want to rejoice and enjoy the fruits of the labors of my little friends.

Apr 22 2011

Earth Day 2011

Why do I observe Earth Day?

In what is regarded as the oldest book of the Bible, a wealthy man, Job, is stripped of his wealth, furthermore he loses much of his family and his health.

The book is commonly regarded as an answer to the reason for evil in the world. It also speaks clearly to the role of humans in their environment.

After Job’s complaints about his losses, God speaks (Job 39) and “puts him in his place.”

He says, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone — while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?

God goes on to give many examples of things in Creation that are beyond Job’s ken and control. He says, “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south?
Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?

Contrary to modern man’s prevaling idea, we are not the masters of the universe. We look around and feel a sense of awe at what we see. The Pagan looks at the universe and worships it. But Job shows us that it is the Creator, not the creation, that is the object of true worship.

The Psalmist (chapter eight) says: “What is man that you are mindful of him,the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the angels, and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea…

We have a role to play in the management of the creation. But that role is contingent upon our relationship with the Creator.

The Secular Humanist claims that environmental destruction has come from the Judeo-Christian idea of the dominion of man. While there may be Jews and Christians that have participated in the rape and pillage of the planet, the charge totally ignores that much of the worst damage has been done by those who oppose and reject the Judeo-Christian heritage. The charge also ignores that the environmental movement has its roots in modern Christian cultures.

Modern man is incredibly arrogant. We think we are at the pinnacle of accomplishment, and all is now within our control.

When a catastrophic leak of an oil drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico caused massive damage to the ecology, President Obama promised to restore the Gulf of Mexico to “better than it was before.” The arrogance of such a statement can only be overshadowed by its ignorance, and it’s amazing to me that it attracted so little attention.

The solution to the environmental problem, and the placing of Earth Day (really every day) in proper perspective lies in humbly returning to the very first commandment ever given to humankind – a commandment that was given long before the famous Ten.

It is simply God’s instuction: “Tend My garden.”