Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Marin IJ Articles

Give thanks to all that contribute to our gardens

November 27, 2015
Karen Gideon

This Thanksgiving holiday most of us have enjoyed a meal that included fruits and vegetables, either in our homes or in a community kitchen, and gave thanks for our lives of abundance. I’d like to suggest one more toast. Raise your glass with me and give heartfelt thanks to the bit players — the invisible contributors, the ones not at your table (hopefully) that contribute to our feast of gratitude. These are the shepherds of the garden life cycle, vital participants in the creation of our gardens of food and beauty.

First, I raise my glass to thank the molds, mycorrhizas, fungi, bacteria, dead plants and tiny animals that make up the organic material in my soil. A special shout out to the worms that eat my trimmings and leftovers and leave the soil rich with their fertilizing poop. These nutrients neatly combine with our precious water to reach the roots of my plants. This process supplies nourishment and minerals that are needed to grow stems, buds, and leaves. And a big thank you to the stomata — the tiny pores on the underside of leaves whose transpiration action draws the nutrients from the roots up the stems and trunks of even our great redwood trees. After photosynthesis, stomata release oxygen and water into the atmosphere. Job well done.

I’d also like to thank the pollinators for keeping my garden fruitful. Who are these pollinators? Beetles, honey bees, bumble bees, native bees, birds, butterflies, syrphid flies — those buzzing insects that land on a flower, dip into pollen and then land on another flower. They deliver pollen produced by male flower to the female parts in the flower’s ovary — which results in our fruits and vegetables. Pollinators are a critical part of bringing us everything from pumpkins to pomegranates, tomatoes to turnips. To the pollinators, a humble thank you.

While I’m waiting for my tomatoes to ripen and my flowers to bloom, I’m grateful for the pest controllers that patrol the stems and leaves looking for insects that can destroy my bounty or eat the fruit or the plants before I can harvest them. These are ladybugs, lacewings, spiders and tiny wasps. I wish you a bon appetit.

And a thank you to the many trees and shrubs that give up their leaves, branches and stems to a wood grinder that I might have mulch to spread at the base of my plants to keep them moist and weed free. I promise to make my cuts properly and do no damage.

I’m grateful for the spirit of my garden where I spend long hours, listening to the bird songs, the squirrel chatter and the whizzing of busy insects. Handling soil is calming, meditative work. Time spent removing the unnecessary and competing plants allows me to witness nature’s miracles first hand, a chance to observe the coordination of all these many activities. Namaste.

Gardens nourish our families and communities as we break bread, fill our souls with meditative and restorative opportunities, and feed our love of nature as we realize how we are all connected. The beauty and gratitude for fruits, vegetables and flowers are obvious. It’s the little guys, some barely visible to the naked eye that I want to salute and say, “Happy Thanksgiving.”

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