Gardener's Grapevine 2011.06.02

Written by David Green.

Wow! What a Memorial Day weekend to remember! It was beautiful Saturday as we were getting ready for the holiday, and beautiful on Sunday into the early afternoon, and then came the wrath of Mother Nature. She had a major temper tantrum and Morenci was a recipient.

My son and I were at the park planting the memorial planter for the Garden Club and then we headed out to the cemetery to clean the family tombstones. For the most part, it was a beautiful day other than the mosquitos. To quote Bill Spencer the weather man, “The mosquitos are as big as B52s.” If you question that, go to the back of the cemetery toward the river. 

Bugs are necessary, although usually pests, but they all have a function and some are great in the garden such as the praying mantis. The praying mantis will eat a variety of garden pests such as aphids, Japanese beetles and probably many more.

Many people are afraid of bats; they really get a bad rap because of their habit of swooping. There are also the myths about bats brought about by movies and lore. Bats are actually a benefit to us in that they eat insects—particularly mosquitos. I wouldn’t care if a few spent each night hovering and eating over our property. Fewer mosquitos to eat me, more garden time for me.

Another good insect is the lady bug. Not the yellow stinky ones, but the red ones do a lot to help get rid of garden pests. I have a book called, “Carrots Love Tomatoes,” and it is a great guide to companion gardening. It talks about what plants will discourage certain insects that eat the vegetables and the plants themselves.  I am a very big advocate of living life with the least amount of carbon footprint possible. I don’t want to use a chemical on my plants to control an insect just so I can eat a tomato or have a perfect tomato. I would rather find out what in nature controls whatever pest is my current headache. For the most part it works for me. If only I could find a natural way to dispose of poison ivy—that plant and I are mortal enemies.

Think of where the chemicals put on gardens and yards go. Granted, they kill the pest, but how much is absorbed into the plant? How much is absorbed into the ground? Does any of it make it into our water supply or permanently damage our soil? A lady bug lives, eats, dies and biodegrades. What could be more natural? It gives us all food for thought. 

When it seems easier to use a chemical I think of my dad telling me he remembers when Bean Creek ran clear water. Why doesn’t it now and how are we changing it for our grandchildren? I’m not a grandstander or tree hugger, but I wish I could see Bean Creek run clear and know it would be okay to drink it or swim in it.

A garden is a wonderful thing in many ways—food, beauty, education and it’s just plain peaceful. A garden should not cost our environment anything if done correctly. It can take a lot of reading, talking to knowledgeable people, and more work than sprinkling something from a bottle. I think in the long run you will find more satisfaction in a garden that is giving, not permanently taking.

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