Sometimes We Should Keep The Weeds

Flowering weeds can attract lots of beneficial bugs to the yard.

Florida homeowners are more likely than most to hire a lawn care service. The extreme heat is one of the main reasons, but the weeds and bugs are also at the top of the list, I’m sure.

Because we never get an actual winter here in the Sunshine State, things grow and grow. Some plants die back when the weather is colder than normal, but for the most part everything comes back quickly.

When I say “lawn care” I mean not only the brave souls who mow and weed-eat in this hot and humid climate, but the ones who spray insecticides to kill everything unwanted. Everyone needs to keep the growth down, but many homeowners also have their yards sprayed with chemicals to kill the bugs and weeds.

Daisy Fleabane – attracts pollinators

This tiny flower is growing in my lawn which hasn’t been cut in a while. I might dig it up and transplant it to the backyard garden.

Daisy fleabane flowers are light lavender with big yellow centers, or can be white
Daisy Fleabane

Weeds For the Bees and Butterflies

Often weeds are something that have been around for a long time in the area where we live. They are native and should not be totally eradicated, in my opinion.

The purple flowering Spiderwort is considered a nuisance, and for good reason – it spreads like mad. It has pretty flowers, but grows in clumps that are nearly impossible to pull up from the lawn. It springs up all over, if the grass is not cut often. That means in the winter months when growth is slower gives this weed time to find places in the lawn to sprout. By March, the Spiderwort is blooming everywhere in the morning, but closes up as the day wears on. It attracts many honey bees.

Spiderwort

Spiderwort grows all along the edge of my yard. I do find it in the lawn as well and it is difficult to remove once it has rooted. If left to grow, it will become big clusters of flowers with long, grass-like leaves.

Although it is a nuisance to anyone trying to keep a pristine landscape, the flowers attract beneficial honeybees and other “good” bugs.

Spiderwort weed grows along edge of yard

White Flowering Spanish Needle

I never knew the name of this white flowering weed. It grew all along the property edge and began springing up in my old raised vegetable bed. I let it grow and it got large. When I decided to remove it, I had to dig it out.

There were plenty more Spanish Needle plants and I have left a few around the garden edges. Now that I can recognize the leaves, I can pull the plant up when it is small. Otherwise, it will take a shovel to get the roots.

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Air Potato Plants Are Good For Nothing

Come to find out, Florida is full of invasive species of animals and plants. One such plant is known as the “air potato”. The name fits because the “potatoes” hang from vines that can climb. Of course many fall to earth where they commence growing new vines to choke all other growth and trees in the vicinity.

They are not edible, and are good for nothing, as far as I know. I read that they were brought in as medicinal plants from Africa and Asia. Now they threaten Florida’s native plants.

Potato vines smothering vegetation
The empty lot next to my yard has many potato vines crawling all over the vegetation

Potato vines grow rampantly here in Florida and climb over all sorts of vegetation from shrubs to trees. They will pull branches to the ground and smother plants by blocking the sun and distorting growth.

potato vines
Vines growing over vegetation

Getting Rid of Potatoes

I live in a very large neighborhood but beside me is a rare, uncleared lot. One day it will be sold and a house will go in, but for now there is a lot of wild growth in this small area. Because potato vines are growing like mad over there, the potatoes fall into my yard.

Potatoes dropped along the edge of my yard
Potatoes at the edge of my yard

The potatoes can be large or tiny. They cover the ground and hang from the vines. If they sit on the ground long enough they will root and send out vines to climb whatever is nearby.

large air potato in Florida
Air potato, large size

As I was picking up the many potatoes around my yard, I wondered what was the best way to dispose of them. All I found was this information on A Guide to Air Potato which says to put them in a black plastic bag (I only had white) and let them deteriorate then throw them out with the regular trash – not lawn debris – pick up.

I let these bags of potatoes sit around for months but nothing happened. Finally I threw them in with the regular trash.

bags of air potatoes
I filled these bags with potatoes
Florida air potatoes
Potatoes and vine under roots of the Brazilian pepper tree

Potato vines are just one of many invasive plants that threaten Florida habitats. In the photo above many potatoes litter the ground beneath Brazilian Pepper tree roots. That is an invasive tree.

Yup, here in the jungle invasive species are flourishing and choking out the local nature. But they are not half as dangerous as the influx of people who keep clearing land and ruining the ecology.

One Year on Keto, What Has Changed?

A year ago in August I began to follow the Keto diet. So, a year later, what has changed? Probably more importantly I ask myself, what have I learned?

After a year of making changes in my food choices and increasing my exercise, I can say that I feel much better than I did last year in August.

Today, my blood pressure is not perfect but it is lower. My body is less puffy and bloated, which I only realized when the “stuffed potato” feeling was gone!

I no longer have any heartburn and I sleep much better during the night. Even my hot flashes are fewer.

Zen stones peace

Am I skinny? No. Have I lost weight? Yes. I don’t have a scale so I am not sure how much I’ve lost, but it’s not a whole lot. I’d guess around ten pounds.

An important aspect of this lifestyle is that my outlook and attitude is calmer and more peaceful.

I do not miss eating bread, but every now and then I have a piece of homemade bread toasted with almond butter as a treat. I bake my own bread, and slice and freeze it for just such an occasion.

bread toast

Which brings me to my new realization: I may not be a total Keto follower. I stray over to the Paleo way of life sometimes (although they don’t eat bread either).

I believe in eating fruit more than Keto allows for. I also agree that natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup – the real kind from the tree – can have beneficial minerals and nutrients. And I still eat the occasional carrots, potato, and sweet potato.

cheese love

On the other hand, Paleo followers do not eat dairy at all. I do like cheese and yogurt occasionally. I don’t load up on cheese as many Keto Recipes will advise, and that was a mistake I made in the beginning, but I do enjoy some dairy – full fat yogurt, sharp cheddar cheese.

In general, I believe that a wide variety of food is necessary for overall health and well-being. I can still remain in ketosis for the most part, but some days I do go over the suggested carb limit. I DO NOT count carbs. I’m trying to eat to help my kidneys, by eating kidney friendly, and that is my number one goal.

Read Paleo vs. Keto: What’s the Difference?

Fasting, or IF (Intermittent Fasting)

From the first time I learned about intermittent fasting and it’s good effects on the body, I was onboard. All I have to do is …. nothing… do not eat. I can truthfully say that this has been the easiest part of my dietary and lifestyle changes.

I do sometimes get hungry while I fast each morning. Usually by noontime I am ready to eat! But it’s not unbearable, and when I think about the good it is doing, I am encouraged to wait the few hours it takes to finish my fast.

I still have not done a longer fast, but it’s on my list to accomplish.

Exercise

As far as exercise goes, I still struggle with getting regular heart-pumping exercise.

I went on a trip to New Hampshire where I began walking almost every day. What a beautiful place to walk! When I got back home to Florida I kept walking and was regularly walking every morning, even when the humidity soared in June and July. I got out early and sweated my way through my 1.3 mile journey.

Then, in August – just two weeks ago – I hurt my neck. I was in such pain for days that I gave up any thoughts of walking or moving fast. That threw me off my exercise cycle and now I have to get back on.

Florida oaks with moss branching over a road
Walking the neighborhood

As someone older, I bounce back slowly. I know this. I will get back to it and I will keep my blood pressure down and my weight off. I’ve seen good results from following my Keto / Paleo diet plan and I am healthier because of it.

Here’s to another year of finding health in eating good, natural foods.

vegetable collage
Vegetables are always good!

Thanks to Pixabay for the images on this page.

At the End of 2020

The year has been a pretty lousy one for me, and not just because of Covid. I lost a couple of important people.

First, I had to admit that my sister’s strange behavior was not going away. Living far from her meant that our conversations were over the phone, and talking with her was becoming more and more stressful. She would dwell on things and talk about them constantly as if they were the most important things – like a snowstorm. She repeated herself a lot. She told me she was paying her bills twice, or not paying them at all. She was having trouble at work and decided she needed to retire. When I spoke to her son, he knew all about her issues. He took her to see a doctor and she has a form of dementia.

I believe it began years ago, but it creeps up. I dealt with my mother who had Alzheimers and that was a challenge. When I sister began to repeat herself without realizing it, or acknowledging it when I pointed it out, I worried. It’s one of the first things I had noticed about my mother’s behavior.

My sister is younger than I am, but already she has stopped calling or picking up her phone. She does not reply to texts either. I have lost my sister. She was the only thread tying me to our distant family members and she is my only sibling. We talked on the phone nearly every day. My mother died years ago, and my father is estranged from us so my immediate family is now gone.

Another friend, who is much older, also dropped out of the picture and I have no idea why. Her phone is disconnected, and I figure either she went into the hospital and died, or went to live with one of her children. She has not contacted me, so I am left in limbo, and assume she is simply gone from my life.

There is no hope for a happy new year any longer, and I won’t kid myself, but I will be traveling to see my kids in Spring. Masks or not, I am going for an extended trip to make up for the two years I’ve been away. So there is something to look forward to.

This Christmas I will be home with one of my sons and we’ll cook food and have drinks and enjoy the day, just us two. Last Christmas I was dog-sitting and spent the holidays alone – well, with the dog – who was a sweetheart. I didn’t want to commit to that again. It was very lonely. Their neighbors knew the circumstances, that the people were traveling to be with family, and I was alone watching their dog. Yet no one dropped off a meal, or thought of me sitting alone in the house eating a frozen pizza for Christmas. They spoke to me and should certainly have thought that a plate would have been appreciated. It’s quite amazing how strangely people behave.

People have their own busyness to deal with. Family and friends and good times abound, and they all assume that everyone is doing the same types of things. I don’t believe they think too much about it. No one wants to ruin their happiness with thoughts of the poor and lonely.

For those of you who may read this and will spend the holidays alone, or in a very low key situation, know that I am thinking of you. I’ve spent plenty of lonely holidays and some have been downright miserable. This year I plan to make the best of it, which is all we can really do.

2021. It’s coming. I don’t know what to think.

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