This morning I was clearing away the amaranth that had been such a treat to the bees last month. It had gone to seed and was no longer attractive to the bees, yet it was still green enough that I wasn’t tortured by the spikes that harden when it dries. Still, as I moved the “forest” aside, I realized that I was disturbing the ecosystem of a couple of friends. I encountered two praying mantises. I have been surprised to find praying mantises in my garden, especially since I live in the desert and I never saw them in my bay area garden. Mantises seem like they would enjoy a more humid, lush environment. In any case, I consider them to be very auspicious. I knew they eat insects, but I was surprised to learn that they also feed on small lizards and hummingbirds! I am actually hoping they might help maintain the grasshopper balance in my garden. I have been sporting a few very large grasshoppers lately. Further, I believe the grasshoppers may have been responsible for the decimation of a young patch of cucumbers plants.
Still, I think grasshoppers are lovely. I like the way they blend in with their surroundings and sort of hop/fly to get around.
This is actually self-portrait #6. I have been trying to figure out how to capture the amazing swarm of honey and bumble bees that visit my weeds each morning as I sit on the porch and practice. Video was the way!
Amaranth is a prolific weed in Phoenix. It is easy to pull out when it is young, but once it goes to flower it is covered with stalks of prickly flower/seed heads. The bushes get about five to six feet tall with about the same diameter width. Weeding them once they are full grown means enduring scratches.
Despite the unpleasantness of dealing with mature amaranth, at TESLI some of the amaranth is left to seed because it supports the ecosystem. The video shows bees busily harvesting the pollen and the seeds are a welcome treat for the birds.
I think this is a facet of gardening that people miss out on. Many people are focused on production of a crop and/or the garden looking good. These are not bad choices, but imagine what is possible when you let nature do the work and you can enjoy the co-creation of a balanced ecosystem. Simple living is about increasing awareness in regards to what our choices create.