Jane Stroud, officer of Loving Garland Green Board of Directors multitasking in the garden:  watering and vacuuming bugs.

At the Crossroads of Sustainable and Practical with Loving Garland Green

FROM spring of 2015:

This morning I got an interesting email from Jane Stroud, an officer on the Board of Directors for Loving Garland Green:

New idea!
I'm invaded with cucumber beetles. I saw on Internet you could vacuum with cordless vac and dump them in soapy water. I tried it this afternoon and you can suck them out of the air in flight. Done!  Gonna try this tomorrow morning when I water with Marie. Should work! Bringing a bucket of soapy water to test it in.  

This morning I went down to the garden to see Jane in action with her cordless vacuum and container of soapy water.  Yes, she was successfully vacuuming up squash bugs.  The process definitely works.

But is vacuuming squash bugs sustainable?  Strictly speaking, the answer is likely "no."

Environmental sustainability refers to the rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely. If they cannot be continued indefinitely then they are not sustainable.  Unless the vacuum is solar-powered, its use to suck up the bugs is not sustainable.



I’ve done considerable research and I can find no information on any beneficial aspect of the squash bug.  If you know of any, please educate me.  Generally speaking all creatures have a reason for being--even humans.


Injury is limited to squash, pumpkin, melon, and other plants in the cucurbit family. Adults and nymphs cause damage by sucking plant juices. Leaves lose nutrients and water and become speckled, later turning yellow to brown. Small plants can be killed completely, while larger cucurbits begin to lose runners. The wilting resembles bacterial wilt, which is a disease spread by another pest of squash, the cucumber beetle. The wilting caused by squash bugs is not a true disease. Squash bugs may feed on developing fruits, causing scarring and death of young fruit.


In spring, search for squash bugs hidden under debris, near buildings and in perennial plants in the garden. Inspect young plants daily for signs of egg masses, mating adults, or wilting. Place wooden boards throughout the garden and check under them every morning.  Then destroy any squash bugs found.

Cultural Practices

The best method for control is prevention through sanitation. Remove old cucurbit plants after harvest. Keep the garden free from rubbish and debris that can provide overwintering sites for squash bugs.

At the end of the gardening season, compost all vegetation or thoroughly till it under. Handpick or vacuum any bugs found under wooden boards. During the growing season, pick off and destroy egg masses as soon as you see them. Use protective covers such as plant cages or row covers in gardens where squash bugs have been a problem in the past and remove covers at bloom to allow for pollination.


Using a trellis for vining types of squash and melons can make them less vulnerable to squash bug infestation. [We are definitely going to 1) plant squash in new places next year and 2) trellis them  [at the least they will be easier to vacuum than vines on the ground].

Resistant Varieties

Some squash varieties, including Butternut, Royal Acorn, and Sweet Cheese, are more resistant to squash bugs.  [We may decide to go this route as well as we did get a few butternut squash this year.]

Biological Control

The parasitic tachinid fly Trichopodna pennipes, which lays its eggs on squash bugs, may be found in some gardens. Look for the eggs of this parasite on undersides of squash bugs.   [I'm very leery of introducing non-native insects into our local environment.  In fact, I don't do it.  Often this ends up drastically upsetting the balance of nature in the environment and you end up trading one problem for another.  We've seen this in many places in the USA with the introduction of various non-native species of dragonflies as mosquito controllers.]

Chemical Control has been found to be ineffective in the management and control of the squash bug.

[Information and photo on squash bug courtesy University of California Agriculture Department.]


Permaculture Principle 11:  Use Edges and Value the Marginal


When we founded Loving Garland Green in October of 2013, we set the permaculture principles as our ideals to aim for as stewards of the Garland Community Garden.  As such, we use no pesticides other than insect soap down at the garden. We also have an agreement with the City that they will not use pesticides or herbicides on their property that directly adjoins the garden.

Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered around simulating or directly using the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.

Membership in Loving Garland Green for most of us includes following the 12 principles of permaculture.   You can find them on our website at

The eleventh principle is one that is not always readily understood and more than once I’ve explained it to people because it is an important principle to observe in nature.  We can learn from our observations and then to use this knowledge as leverage to bring changes that conserve energy and maximize existing potential.  

Permaculture Principle 11:  Use Edges and Value the Marginal

As a culture we rarely use or even think of edges as any more than boundaries that separate different parts or areas.  As for “valuing the marginal”—more often than not, we view marginal as unstable and dangerous and run from it at full throttle.

David Holmgren, one of the co-founders of permaculture as a discipline is often quoted as saying:  “Don’t think you are on the right path just because you have plenty of company.”  That statement is a good principle in and of itself (even if it is not specifically one of the 12 permaculture principles).  And yes, almost the entire world can be wrong and historically have been more than once.  We all need to remember that. Ignorance can often manifest and spread like weeds to the far corners of the earth. The number does not increase the value of the weed.  If anything, it only makes it more noxious.

In nature, the place where two eco-systems or habitats meet (e.g. woodland and meadow) is generally more productive and richer in the variety of species present than either habitat on its own. In ecology this space is called 'ecotone'.

This observation of nature is central to the idea of using edges as a design method. The logic is simple. If the most productive bit of woodland is the edge, then design it to have a bigger edge.  Makerspaces that I've written about lately can be considered as putting permaculture principle 11 into action.  The makerspace is a way to widen the narrow edge occupied by skilled workers through the creation of spaces that make their tools and expertise available for teaching others.  The unskilled workers bring their own life experiences to this edge or space and thus new ways to use the tools and new possibilities for creation of new objects emerge from the merging of these two different worlds of the teacher and the student.

Intuitively, at least, we show some propensity to use edges and value the marginal.  For example, many people in the world desire to live near or on the edge where the water meets the land—lakefront properties, beach properties, and riverfront properties.  That we value such edges is reflected in the prices that we are willing to pay for these edge properties.

But it is peculiar how we can have such an understanding at one level that indicates a deeper understanding of the underlying principle and then turn around and totally disregard the principle in other applications. 

No better example of this than the way we have laid out our streets—particularly in residential areas.  If anything, the grid pattern which most residential developments follow totally ignores the edge and how it could be used to enhance the quality of any residential development and the lives of the people who live there. 

Apr 16 @ 5:04 pm

YOU HAVE MANY CHOICES:  here are a few:

The sap from Philodendron can irritate your skin and mouth, resulting in throat swelling, breathing difficulties, burning pain, and stomach upset.  Ingesting the flower, leaf or stem of an Azalea could lead to abdominal pain, difficulty breathing, paralysis, coma, and even death.  Hydrangea blossoms contain cyanide.   

Oleander is very toxic as it contains cardiac glycosides (cardenolides) found in all parts of the plant.  Just one leaf can harm a child.  Munching on the bulb of a daffodil can cause convulsions, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmia.  Lilly of the Valley--a favorite for bridal bouquets but ingesting these flowers which, like Oleander, contain cardiac glycosides can lead to death. 

Lilies, a favorite for funeral wreaths and also Tiger Lilies and Day Lilies can all cause acute kidney failure by just eating a small amount of these plants.  Dieffenbachia, also known as “elephant ear” can become deadly if ingested, causing the airways to swell shut. Even brushing against it can cause burning or itching.

Datura, also called Moonflower and Angel Trumpet has a lovely sweet  honeysuckle/star jasmine scent.  A member of the nightshade family, it also goes by other less flattering nomenclature such as “Hells Bells” and Jimsonweed.  The beautiful white flowers of the Datura only open up at night, hence the name Moonflower. 

The seeds from this plant have been ingested by indigenous people in temperate zones all over the word for centuries  to induce hallucinations and visions for spiritual ceremonies--but not without consequences as many of them died.  They also smoke the leaves. But that’s the main problem I have with most folk medicines and cures:  you never can be for certain how much is enough.  It’s all about the recommended dosage.  But the real kicker is that one can never know until it is too late. 

The Zuni people once used datura as an analgesic to render patients unconscious while broken bones were set.  Because of this use, I’ve considered planting Datura in the Medicine Wheel at the Garland Community Garden. No doubt many of the ancient medicine wheels all over the Southwest had Datura. But I’ve decided against it once again this year--even though I have 36 seedlings and I have planted six in my yard at home.  I love them for the flower and wonderful scent.


Central Texas Gardener had this to say about Datura: 

The most common way to get this plant is by having a friend share some seed with you. Once the flower has been pollinated, a very large, spiky seed head forms, containing hundreds of seeds. If you don’t collect those seed heads before they burst, you’ll find lots of Datura seedlings coming up all over the place next year, although the plant really isn’t invasive and the seedlings shouldn’t escape too far.

Most likely it will reestablish from seed, so be sure to collect and save some so that you can plant them where you want them next year, and give some to jealous friends.

Datura only gets about 2 feet tall, but may spread very wide, up to 10 feet, especially if it’s getting plenty of water. It doesn’t need much water at all and prefers well-drained, coarse soil, but if given a little supplemental irrigation, it will get a bit larger and flower more prolifically.

Datura needs full sun to grow and produce those gorgeous white blooms, which usually start to show in late May or early June and cover the plant all summer long. Be very careful when handling this plant. All parts of it are poisonous if ingested. Some people are allergic and have a reaction when touching its fuzzy gray-green foliage.

Datura is a great plant for xeriscaped areas in your garden, and requires very little care or attention to be beautiful all summer long, even in the extreme heat.”




[RAINCHECK  date is Sunday April 25th 1 to  5 pm]

We will require masks at this event.


“Although COVID-19 vaccines are effective at keeping you from getting sick, scientists are still learning how well vaccines prevent you from spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to others, even if you do not have symptoms. Early data show the vaccines do help keep people with no symptoms from spreading COVID-19, but we are learning more as more people get vaccinated.

We’re also still learning how long COVID-19 vaccines protect people.

For these reasons, even people who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have recovered from COVID-19 should keep taking precautions in public places, until we know more, like wearing a mask, staying 6 feet apart from others, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, and washing your hands often.”


We have scheduled this event as a come-and-go event from 9pm to 5pm.  We don’t anticipate any more than 30 people (if that) to be present at any one time in the garden and we ask all to social distance at 6 feet or more.   


We will have three tables (each well-separated in the garden):  One will have free plants.  If you are a gardener and have extra seedlings to share, we invite you to bring them to share with others.  One table will have literature from the City of Garland and from various Garden clubs in Garland who want to participate.   One table will feature bottled water and our guest book.


Below is a photo of the second bed we installed at the garden.  Talk about faith: We began installing beds before we even had water at the garden.  For the first month we hauled it there in five-gallon buckets from our homes.

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Bamboo: It’s A Grass and it’s all over Garland, Texas!
and you can find it at the Garland Community Garden.

Lots of surprises and things to learn in our Community Garden--about plants and other cultures in our community too!  Be sure and stop by the Garland Community Garden April 24 from 9AM to 5PM.  We are celebrating our 7th Anniversary.

Bamboo belongs to the grass family Poaceae. The long straight stalks of this giant grass can reach up to 100 feet tall depending on the species. Bamboo in more temperate climates is usually less than half that size, but tropical bamboos can reach staggering heights. The stalks are jointed and hollow, often growing in thick stands.

The above-ground portion of bamboo is called the culm (Latin for stalk is culmus). It consists of the main stem, leaves and inflorescence. The sections of the main stalk are broken down into culms and interculms, commonly described as nodes and internodes. These internodes are hollow, and the nodes are solid. These hollow sections of stalk between the nodes are normally airtight and have many uses.  NOTE:  Because they are airtight, one should not throw bamboo on a campfire as it can explode.

Most of the bamboo in Garland spreads by a rhizome root system and thus can be invasive.  Thus, it requires sensible management.There are two types of bamboo root systems; clumping and running. Running bamboo spreads by rhizomes and can be invasive.  We have bamboo growing all over Garland--particularly in areas near our creeks.  Bamboo has hundreds, perhaps thousands of uses.  In the 1880s when the USA was still a plant-based and not petroleum-based economy, Thomas Edison fired up a factory for making filaments for his light bulbs using black bamboo for filaments.


Yes, bamboo is edible.  I got this education from members or our Asian community 6 years ago in the spring of our second year of the garden. People began to arrive and ask me if they could harvest the bamboo shoots. 

Unlike tropical climates, the season for eating young shoots in most of the United States is limited to spring, because the closer to the equator one gets, bamboo send up shoots nearly year-round. Even so, for such an important vegetable staple in other parts of the world, I’m amazed it’s not a big commercially produced vegetable here in the United States.


Just one cup of shoots, after boiling, has cellulose, fiber, trace minerals, amino acids, 1.84 kcal of energy, 1.84 g of protein, 2.3 g of carbohydrates, fats (saturated, unsaturated, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids), 14 mg of calcium, 0.29 mg iron, 4 mg magnesium, 24 mg phosphorus, 640 mg potassium, 5 mg sodium, 0.56mg zinc, 0.024 mg thiamin, 0.060 mg riboflavin, 2 mg folate and various other vitamins. Like most vegetables, many vitamins and nutrients are cooked out when boiling, therefore finding or growing species that are safe eaten raw is beneficial. (Bamboo is not one of them. It needs to be cooked because of its slight toxicity.  My Asian friends tell me that boiling for 20 minutes does the trick.)

Bamboo is an important forage crop around the world for various animals, both wild and domesticated. Almost 100 percent of the giant panda’s diet consists of bamboo. Gorillas, elephants, rats and chimps also eat bamboo. We could feed some of the animals in the zoos around Garland in the spring with all the bamboo we have growing wild in our city. 

Yes, bamboo can only be harvested in the spring here in Garland, but it can be preserved and enjoyed year-round. 

If you want to preserve bamboo shoots, as many people do worldwide, there are various methods such as: fermentation alone or fermentation and then dehydration; pickled; salted; seeds or sap made into beer or wine; and bamboo rice (bamboo seeds) or white rice infused with bamboo extract.  Bamboo helps sustain millions of people worldwide with food, shelter and various other uses.

Bamboo is harvested just as the tips of new growth are poking up about six inches from the ground.  Using a sharp knife, the harvester cuts off close to the ground.  After taking it home, the tough sheath is peeled off, revealing a yellowish white inner layer.  This inner layer is then prepared by boiling for eating or preserving for eating later.



I don’t recommend it in Garland, just yet.  In order for a grove to be safe for the public, it needs to have wide paths cleared for walking and I would recommend some sort of snake repellent for the area.  But being inside a bamboo forest is a wonderful feeling. It’s a feeling of being wrapped in the blanket of nature.  I’ve been in the ones in Vietnam and I’ve also been in the one at the Garland Community Garden.  For our local garden I wore safety glasses and boots (for snakes and stubble).  Unprepared groves are not safe for the general public as your eyes could get scratched by the leaves and you might come across a copperhead here in Garland.



All day Saturday April 24 we will be celebrating our 7th year Anniversary! We haven't decided exactly what events we will have. Although a Girl Scout troop will bring rocks they have painted to place in a special part of our garden. The public is welcome to come and go--even if no one is in the garden. We will have a guest book for people to sign and let us know what the garden may mean to you. So many of our citizens come and go in the garden that members of Loving Garland Green don't even know who they all are.


A couple of years ago I went down to the garden to work and there was a young woman pulling up weeds in a bed. I didn't know her so I went up and introduced myself. I could see she had been crying. She apologized and said that she hoped it was OK for her to pull weeds. Her grandmother who lived out of state had died that morning and she was a gardener. The women had fond childhood memories of her and felt closer to her down at the garden that morning pulling weeks.


The garden is a very informal and special place. You don't have to be a gardener to enjoy it. We have chairs scattered throughout and a picnic table. Everyone is welcome. We share 50% of our produce with local food banks.


To give another example of how/why we have no idea of all the people who enjoy this garden, yesterday a man came down with his compost for the week. I had never seen him before. For almost three years on Saturday or Sunday he has been donating his vegan leftovers for our compost. Yet I was meeting him for the first time.


I hope you'll drop by on April 24th.



This photo was taken on April 2, 2021.  In six years I don't remember blooms appearing before the first week in May.  I can see I need to add some iron to the soil as the leaves are yellow.

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Members of Loving Garland Green have already been busy!    Beginning on January 3 we planted fifty tulip bulbs.  This is our third year to participate in the Journey North Tulip Garden and Climate Change Study.  Each fall and winter people across the Northern Hemisphere plant Red Emperor tulip bulbs in Journey North Test Gardens to help monitor seasonal change in a scientific way. ... Local climate affects where, when, and how plants grow. Over time, the timing of plant growth can be used as an indicator of climate change.  This year four of them emerged February 7.  In prior two years tulips emerged January 27.

March 6 we helped the students at Park Crest Elementary School here in Garland Texas put in their spring garden.  It was a fun all day event in which we planted over two hundred vegetable transplants. Loving Garland Green were in charge of planting the vegetables. Other groups at the event hosted additional activities for the children.  Reba Collins, a naturalist from Keep Garland Beautiful, presented discussions on pollinators and the roles they play in our food production.  Last year Reba and the children installed a large pollinator garden beside the vegetable garden.  It includes mostly native perennials that are already beginning to come back.  There was a tasting table where children were encouraged to taste different kinds of food (prior to corona virus awareness).  Also we had a group of perma-culturists there who showed the students how to regrow vegetables and compost.

Planting at the Garland Community Garden

Many of us got our plots planted just before the Texas monsoon began.  Below is a photo I took on March 12 after I planted lettuce, basil, kale, Swiss chard and cauliflower.  Already my bed had kale. celery and oregano growing in it.


Plant Sale:  April 4 at the Garden!  9 Am to Noon.

Since our plant sale will be out doors and there are never crushing crowds--never more than 10 people at any one time.  It will be OK.  IF you arrive and there are more people than you want to be around, you can wander in the spacious garden and enjoy the fresh air.

Tomatoes and Herbs that Charlie and I are growing for our donations to the plant sale.

Yard Sale:  April 10 and 11th - Corner Bellwood and Naaman School Road

As usual we will have everything under the sun.  All will be reasonable priced.


Note:  In the event of any revised public health ordinances, of course our events would be postponed until a later date.



MORE FUN COMING TO DOWNTOWN GARLAND DECEMBER 5TH STARTING AT 5 PM - 2019 Magical Christmas Candlelight Home Tour event at 713 Austin Street in Garland on December 5, 2019.

In addition to tree lighting and festivities on the square, there will be a tour of historic homes nearby. And carriage rides. A tour of the historic homes is $20 a ticket and a carriage ride is $40.

Mark your calendars for Magical Christmas Candlelight Home Tour! This dog friendly event will be held from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM on December 5, 2019 at Travis College Hill Historic District plus homes in the nearby Embree historic neighborhood in Garland, TX,

call 214-886-1009 or email for more information.

Eight homes in two historic areas of Garland will be decked out in Christmas finery and open to the public!

A vintage Santa will pose for photos and will tell about Christmases in the long ago.

Carolers from area churches will perform at 20-minute intervals during much of the home tour.

Guests can sip hot cocoa in the outdoor kitchen of one of the vintage homes.


Students with Noon Exchange Club President and GISD Hispanic Community Liaison, Javier Solis
Shopping for Christmas Presents for Kids 

The good heartedness of “giving back to others” permeates the spirit of the Noon Exchange Club of Garland Texas. Their members organize, host and raise the funds for many community events throughout the year that benefit our youth in so many ways.  Primarily, however, they do it by just being themselves--true Americans in the spirit of good-hearted generosity.  My two favorite events of the many they host are 1) our Labor Day Parade and 2) their annual Christmas Party.  I love it that there are still folks out there who remember and honor the contributions of the working people, the laborers of our nation--in fact, the people who literally built our nation from our farms to our skyscrapers.  

The second event they host that I especially love is their annual Christmas Party that benefits 100-150 kids in our City who might not otherwise have a Christmas. Adults from many service organizations and individuals assist them in hosting the Christmas Party; the youth from various high schools in our community who entertain and also assist the younger students for whom the party was hosted. Even the young honored guests themselves get into the act of giving back to others.  They color and decorate cards and write messages of appreciation that will be sent to our troops overseas.

Today was one of the many steps in preparing for the Christmas Party--the shopping spree.  We all went to a local retailer and were given large plastic sacks with information on a child on the sack--their first name, sizes, and toys  or other things like art supplies they had suggested as gifts.  I bought for a little girl, age 11--same age as my granddaughter, Erin.  Like my granddaughter, she had makeup on her list.  As I would for my granddaughter I ignored the request for makeup. Little girls need to stay little girls as along as they can!  The other child was a little boy who is 9, like my grandson, Jack.

Another step in preparation for the December Party will be the gift wrapping party.  Members and volunteers will get together and wrap each of the presents we purchased today (Each child gets $80 worth of presents--a few practical and a few not.

I love this Christmas Party because it teaches all our youth that we all have gifts to give--no matter who we are, how old or how young.  It doesn't smack of "Oh look what we are doing for you."  This event teaches the lesson of sharing and the lesson that we all have gifts to give. We have our high school students performing for the younger students--songs, dance, and  entertainment. Of course there are the adults--both from our Noon Exchange Club as well as other volunteer organizations who participate.  AND as I mentioned before, even the kids for whom this event is planned--they give back too by creating great cards and messages for our service people overseas.

We all have something to give and I appreciate our Noon Exchange Club of Garland for reminding us of this as well as teaching our youth some of the values of what it means to be an American.

A Couple of Shoppers for the Christmas Party


My friend, Yvonne Divine is shopping for a little girl.

Two Noon Exchange Club members of Garland making sure the shopping bags are all kept in order.

Our Friendly Sargent At Arms Noon Exchange Club Member who made sure we kept our purchases within a few bucks of $80 per bag.

And here is my dear, precious friend, and neighbor, Margie.