We Grow Better Together

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

As gardeners know, some plants need their best buddies nearby in order to flourish.

It’s been known for centuries that planting certain combinations of plants together can help the garden prosper. This practice is known as “companion planting.”

For instance, planting alliums such as garlic underneath roses can protect the latter against blackspot and aphids. When lilies and roses are planted together, the scent of each improves.

Yarrow and foxglove have a tonic effect on the plants in their vicinity. Yarrow helps fight off pests, attracts beneficial insects, and improves the soil. Likewise, foxglove stimulates the growth of nearby plants and helps them build up resistance to disease. Planting foxglove under fruit trees improves the storage qualities of the fruit.

Perhaps the ultimate companion plant is marigold. It has traditionally been grown with tomatoes to keep them healthy and produce a better crop. Marigold’s pungent odour disguises the scent of vegetables from pests, preventing them from homing in, and its root secretions kill nematodes that attack plant roots.

Who wouldn’t want such stalwart companions in their corner?

God wants us to have buddies like these on our team, too.

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The Things That Bug Us

Image by Ralf Kunze from Pixabay

Do you ever think that you could have designed this planet a bit better than God did?

Don’t get me wrong. I love the beauty of God’s Creation: the animals, birds, trees, flowers, oceans, mountains, and starry night sky.

But I have just one quibble….

Bugs.

I think God made far too many of them.

Scientists estimate that there are 10 quintillion bugs on Earth, which works out to well over a billion insects per person.

I find this excessive. All most of them do is bite, sting, or frighten people.

In an ideal world of my creation, there would only be a few select insects. Cute ones like ladybugs and beautiful ones like butterflies would make the cut, but I can do without the rest.

Plus, I’d make a lot more flowers. Sound good?

There’s only one problem with the utopia I’ve designed: what would pollinate the flowers?

Insects are responsible for the vast majority of pollination. In my version of this world, I would have eliminated the very things that make possible productivity in flowering plants.

I think we take the same attitude when it comes to things in our lives that we find unpleasant or demanding.

We want nothing to do with the things that “bug” us.

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Need A Clean Slate?

Image of birch bark by Lisa Johnson from Pixabay

If you feel like you could use a clean slate, you’re not the only one.

Birch trees feel the need to start afresh with a new page occasionally, too.

Except they do it literally, by allowing their outer bark to peel off to reveal a fresh layer underneath.

Why do birches do this?

After all, most trees don’t shed their bark. As trees grow from the inside out, their rigid outer bark, which can’t stretch, splits and cracks instead. This gives tree bark the rough texture and fissure-like patterns that we’re all familiar with.

The drawback of these crevices and grooves is that pests and parasites like to burrow into them, which can affect the health of the tree.

Birches have solved this problem by growing smooth bark. This type of bark doesn’t split, which means it’s more impervious to insects, bacteria and fungi. As the birch grows, it exfoliates some of its outer bark, like a snake shedding its skin.

Along with the shed bark the tree is able to cast off insects, moss and lichen at the same time. Birch trees are continually refreshing themselves.

Smart, isn’t it?

Could you use a fresh start, too? Would you like to get rid of some things that are dragging you down?

Jesus gives us an opportunity to do just that.

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Don’t Let Fear Get The Better Of You

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Do you have a fear of bugs?

Many of us do, and I don’t mind admitting that I’m one of them.

Finding a bug in the house instills terror in me. I’m convinced the bug is out to get me, lying in wait to murder me.

I’m tempted to have armed police arrive at my door to deal with the “intruder.” It takes all the self-control I can muster to refrain from dialling 911.

People tell me I’m being irrational. After all, humans are thousands of times bigger than bugs. Insects are probably more afraid of us than we are of them, right?

But I don’t see it that way, so I’m afraid to confront them.

I’ve fallen into the trap of letting my fear get out of proportion to the problem.

Many of us make this mistake. We let fear get the better of us, and it hobbles our responses to life’s challenges.

In ancient times, the children of Israel were no exception.

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The Master of Deception

Peacock Butterfly. Image by 👀 Mabel Amber from Pixabay

If you’re out for a walk in nature, you may not realize how much you’re being tricked.

You may think you’ve got an accurate picture of the natural world around you, but in many cases, you’re being fooled.

That’s because some creatures are masters of deception.

Stick insects camouflage themselves by mimicking the shape and colour of twigs on a tree. Moths may blend in so well with the bark pattern of the tree they’re resting on that you’d never know they’re there.

The killdeer bird fakes having a broken wing to make a predator think she will be an easy meal, thereby luring it away from the vulnerable chicks in her nest. Then she suddenly flies away, to the surprise of the predator.

Even beautiful butterflies get in on the act of trickery. Some species have markings on their wings that look like huge eyes. The eyespots may discourage a predator from attacking by making it think the insect is in fact a much larger animal.

These false eyes may serve another purpose: to encourage an attacker to aim for the wrong target. The markings deflect an attack away from the butterfly’s head or body to parts less vital for survival, such as its wing margins. By using this deception, the butterfly outwits its enemies and is able to fly away with a torn wing at worst, but otherwise relatively unscathed.

Butterflies aren’t the only creatures to use misdirection in this way:

Satan does, too, and we need to be wise to his tactics. We may not realize how much he’s tricking us.

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