I may have disappeared from blogging off and on this past year which is a privilege us bloggers can enjoy at times since even when we withdraw the stories remain. Us humans have the opportunity to step out and miss work or close down a company and take a break from our life. Nature can not step out and take a break or close down for without our pollinators we would not eat.
Our front house was having some remolding done to repair a flat roof two summers ago, and in the process, it led to significant construction jobs all over our city lot. We have two more projects to complete this summer before the outside will be ready to start our new garden. My husband stained the entire house last summer which meant a lot of trampling on our garden beds. This summer I am hoping to restore our Urban Potager with more pollinator-friendly trees, bushes, and plants.
The people that sold us our house 18 yrs ago lived here for 31 years but did not make the necessary repairs before we purchased the home in 1999. At that time we had young kids. We were busy running around and living our lives. We never did get around to address the problems inside or outside our home. You can only ignore the issues for so long. Eventually, the house shouts at you by breaking down!
Our house will be 50 yrs old this year, and due to unrepaired problems from the past 18 years we are playing catch-up right now, and our list is long. Our home is in an urban area just a few miles from the downtown area. It is not indeed a suburban area for we have bus service throughout the town. If you don’t have a car, you can walk to the top of the block and pick up a bus to go all over the greater Quad City area. I don’t have a huge lot but one large enough that I can squeeze many dwarfs or semi-dwarf fruit trees, and a variety of berry bushes in our city lot. I also grow annual vegetables and flowers together in a mix of color throughout our almost 1/3 acre lot. Back in the 60’s people built their homes on large enough lots to grow some food or have a few fruit trees. Today we squeeze huge houses on small lots with no room for any food growing. However, there is always vertical, or container is growing possible in even the smallest spaces! Don’t give up if your city space is modest.
Our greater metropolitan area is 4 cities that are divided by the Great Mississippi River. Two towns are in Iowa, and the others are in Illinois. I live on the Illinois side. And my parents purchased a condo in a senior community on the Iowa side. After my parents moved here in 2016, I noticed each time I would visit them; more of the farmland was being torn up. The landscape was riddled with machines stripping black soil and leaving behind hard clay. They were destroying habitat for nature, and it appeared as they built new homes, condos or office building they were not replacing any of the landscape with pollinator-friendly trees, bushes or plants. It was void of birds. My mother would comment each time I would visit her property they had no birds. When my parents would visit our home, they would hear birds singing and sit for hours in our Urban Potager listening to nature.
I understand this is what builders do, but it seemed unnecessary when we have older homes in the city to remodel. We can’t keep destroying beautiful land to build more homes and let our cities decay. I thought the era of McMansion had disappeared, but no they are up and running again. Many of these homes are huge and not a tree or garden in sight. If they do have a garden, it is nothing more than a few carefully placed bushes. The homes are too large for their lots. I would describe them as “cookie cutter” neighborhood. They all look alike. Everyone has the same house but maybe a twist of a different bush or color scheme. It made me think of the movie Pleasantville back in 1998.
I have to admit there have been times, I have wanted to move to a newer home and be free of all these repairs, but I know that if I don’t do it who will? I have an older home but not as old as the Victorian homes that line the streets in our community. Many people are rebuilding the neighborhoods and trying to redesign our downtown area with more apartments in former factories. We need to restore our cities. We need to look at our older communities and keep what we have by improving. Many of the older neighborhoods in our area have lovely old trees for birds and pollinators. They have space to grow some food, and just a little TLC can make an older home a place to live and raise a family. The lady across the street from me is in her 70’s she moved from the country and purchased the home a few years ago from my 92-year-old neighbor. Our new neighbor moved in and fixed up the house. It was occurring at the same time we were repairing our home. I felt inspired!
On my block, I see many types of people rebuilding their older homes. We don’t all need to destroy nature, valuable farmland or keep expanding our cities outward to take up more forest land. We have to think about what is best for the environment and ourselves. So this summer I challenge you all to put in more plants for nature on your property. If you live in an urban area like me tear up some of that water-guzzling grass; put in raised beds, pollinator-friendly plants, berry bushes or dwarf fruit trees. Let’s get our cities humming again!!!
What will you plant?