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Time flies when you’re having fun

January 5, 2018
By JOYCE COMINGORE ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

It's a new dawn, it's a new day, it's a new year. Now if only I can remember to put 2018 instead of the ingrained last year's date, I'll be a memory success, but my memory seems to be fading with age. Gardening time-wise, we should be in the middle of our planting season, or starting anew. Right now, I'm feeling very cold because I refuse to turn on my house heat. My daughter in Kentucky is making fun of my being cold in the 50s. They are below zero and that is really cold. I fled to her house for Irma and was cold then. I bought a jacket up there which I'm using now. If I bundle up enough, I can keep warm. I am refusing to turn on the heat - not in Florida, says I. Have two heaters and a big pot of water warming on the stove. This manages to warm my house and me nicely.

At least my grass doesn't need mowing very much now. Fun, fun! My son-in-law's garden is flourishing, and he gave me some new kind of lettuce leaves. Enjoy, enjoy. Remembering to share my indoor warmth with cold sensitive plants. Interesting, interesting. Gardening is in full swing, tis our season for growing; lawns need fertilizing now (not a weed and feed), one with little or no phosphate, unless it needs it, but, generally, there is already plenty in our soils. Use a fertilizer with controlled-release nitrogen, it has a longer lasting potential. The N and P ban is June 1 to October, have lawn well fertilized before June. We can still start a last-minute garden for a late spring harvest. Watering is to be done carefully in cold weather because it doesn't evaporate quickly and causes fungi. Think, think.

Florida gardening is an experience of when-when.

Right now, I'm reading a kill-joy article that says there will be no more chocolate produced, no plants, after 2050, due to climate change, predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. They suggest we prepare ourselves for the denial of chocolate. So, where's the fun in that? Maybe, it'll cut my sugar intake, but I love dark chocolate. I can resist milk chocolate. Dieting is not easy, but absence can't make the want to grow less, just fonder. Only those of us who have memories of eating chocolate, chocolate cakes, cookies, hot cocoa will know what we'll be missing. A dim, faded memory. Eventually the future generations won't know what they're missing.

The Mars candy company is experimenting with GMOs to save our future crops, to help them survive the rising temperatures. Cacao crops flourish in the rainforests of West Africa and are being driven up into the mountains for survival, areas reserved for wildlife or just plain unsuitable for cultivation. Hopefully, the genetically modified plants will have the ability to survive the rising temperatures to keep them from having to be relocated.

NOAA reports that climate change will affect the next crop generation, not the current crop, because the land currently used will no longer be suitable by 2050. I'm not invincible, I won't be living 30 years from now, so it's no skin off my nose. I guess we will just have to deny our future offspring chocolate treats. I gave chocolate Santas for Christmas, and soon, in a future Easter, no chocolate bunnies. (Whine), you call this living?

NOAA is focusing on farming specific breeds of cacao seeds that are resistant to drought and supporting the traditional Brazilian way of growing them by "cabruca," where a different tree variety is grown amongst the cacao trees in the rainforest, to provide shade. A critical element for survival of the cacao seeds.

Climate change is going to affect our eating habits in many ways, but thankfully, scientists have been figuring out ways to adapt to the coming crisis. Maybe not this administration, with their denial of climate change, but it will come. Our taste buds will demand it. Fun and joy will not be denied.

Just a heads up about the upcoming Arbor Day for Florida. It is proclaimed for Jan. 19, the third Friday in the month. You might make plans to plants a tree, for you or in a park. I want to find the book, "The Hidden Life of Trees; What They Feel, How They Communicate," by Peter Wohlleben. Since the dawn of our existence, they have been our constant companions. Trees dominate the world's oldest living organisms. We are now aware of how they provide us clean air for our well-being. Wohlleben started his adult life as a forester, organizing the forest's production of lumber. The commercial aspect of his work warped how he viewed the commodity of trees. About 20 years ago, scientists began doing research in his forest. He no longer saw the trees and forest as currency, but priceless living wonders. When you realize that trees experience pain and have memories, that parent trees live together with their children, you can no longer just blithely chop them down with massive machinery.

He found a strange shaped stone and bent down to pick it up. He couldn't lift it because it was attached to the ground. It was a hardened piece of a 500-year-old tree stump that still had roots, keeping it green. Research soon revealed it wasn't unique, neighboring trees help each other through their root systems, by directly or indirectly intertwining their roots, or growing fungal networks around the roots, a sort of nerve system connecting separate trees. They could distinguish their own root systems from other species roots and even their own relatives. Together, they create an ecosystem, supporting each other. Indeed, trees are wonders of our world.

Thinking about them, as Michael Buble' sings, "I'm feeling good, so good."

Thank your favorite tree for it's amazing fortitude, fun, and in giving us so much.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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