We paused, but the yarden didn’t!

A few days weeks back, I wrote about taking a mindful pause on the homestead so that we could create a more ecologically-informed habitat here at Pokeberry Pines. Well, the yarden didn’t take that break with us, and our gardens seem to have woken up, started producing food and flowers in abundance, and are showing us all kinds of very cool species interactions, too. It has been fascinating to be a part of this transformation and to watch the plants and animals figure out how to take advantage of each other or protect themselves in this dance of survival.

Our tomato plants are now loaded with fruits. I estimate we’ll be harvesting 300+ cherry tomatoes off of three tall and stately plants and probably 50 or more regular tomatoes off of just two other plants. The most amazing thing is I haven’t seen one – not one – tomato hornworm. Last year at my dad’s house, the tomato hornworms were thick as thieves (though the parasitic wasps did a fine job of controlling them). Here, I think the nesting birds of Pokeberry Pines are taking care of the caterpillars by feeding them to their young’uns! Hooray for species interactions!

Tomato hornworm infected with parasitic wasp larvae last year….none here this year.
The sweet potatoes are filling out one of the garden beds nicely!
And bees of all kinds are pollinating our squashes and cucumbers…

The pollinator garden is growing well, too. The native plants we planted are growing and some are flowering, inviting many insects to come feast on their offerings. Every morning I take a walk around the yarden, pausing to examine each plant closely, looking for signs of health or disease, growth or stunting, and for any critter that has chosen to interact with each plant. The critters are as varied as the plants and fun to watch as they sip nectar, collect pollen, wait for prey, or build a home. Each has a role to fulfill, is adding to the diversity and sustainability of our homestead in a beautiful way, and provides both entertainment and wisdom for us as we settle here.

Weevils and beetles on black-eyed susan flower
Leaf hoppers on Echinacea
A favorite – green lynx spider on black-eyed susan flower bud – the perfect ambush predator!
A wolf spider molt hanging from an Echinacea leaf
Native bee on the bee balm
Just OUTSIDE the deer fence, a sure sign that the deer are here.
Katydid nymph on an daisy leaf

Some days its hard to believe how chaotic the human world is at this time. But, it makes us appreciate the sanctuary of our gardens and our woods and all the living beings that share it with us each day. May your days be filled with plants and critters that teach you lessons and lift your spirit.


    • You wouldn’t believe it! I barely do. It’s crazy how much things have taken off. I stole that term “yarden” from my favorite local plant teacher/mentor, Kim Calhoun (also known as @plantykim on Instagram). She is the best.

  1. I miss wandering through your back ‘yarden’ dearest neighbor of mine. Looking forward to when we can safely travel again and visiting the
    ‘yardeners!’at Pokeberry Pines. Love and miss you both💞

  2. Love your “yarden” pictures and of course your story to bring it to life! Love the term “yarden”!

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