Thursday, September 15, 2011

Excessive Moderation

Everything in moderation; we hear that about most everything.  Moderation is sometimes preached, taught, politicked, diagnosed and gardened.  At first blush, it sounds like it might be an “always”.  Think of it in depth and it just doesn’t hold a moderate amount of water. 

Knowing when to break out and get excessive is a key gardening technique.  Some examples where moving out of moderation makes sense:

·         Watering for half an hour every other day.  That’s moderate.   It also causes a shallow root system which causes weak stability, less nutrient intake, and an inability to reach moisture at a lower level during drought.  Plants NEED deep watering to become established.

·         Putting a moderate one inch of mulch on your flower beds.  It looks nice in the beginning but it defeats the purpose of mulch – to hold moisture in the ground and keep weeds out.  A minimum of four inches is necessary.

·         A moderate amount of insecticide only to deter pesky insects isn’t really harmful.  Some beneficial insects, birds, amphibians/fish, wildlife and humans are severely sensitive to any amount of insecticides.  Investigate and be prudent.

·         Breathing herbicides a few times a year won’t be all that harmful; that moderation can be a killer.  Poor health is often cumulative; meaning it happens after repeated exposure.  Are you willing to bet “the farm” that you will be able to stay healthy from years of moderate herbicide exposure?  Wear protective equipment every time.

·         Know more than a moderate amount about your soil.  Understand that many things make or break good soil and good soil is the basis for a healthy garden, lawn, flower beds, trees, and bushes.

·         Paying moderate attention to safety practices will eventually insure an injury.  Safe work habits needs every bit of your attention whether in the yard, garden or farm field.

·         A moderate amount of reaping or taking from the ground with little nutrients returning will eventually deplete your corner of the world.  Be aggressive about fertilizing, cover crops, crop and plant rotation, and composting.

 For many years, anyone who actively talked about preservation, conservation, and safety was automatically labeled a “tree hugger” and scorned.  Today gardeners, farmers, and universities are out front on all of these topics.  Their influence (and buying power) has begun to swing big business suppliers towards those goals, too. 

My garden practice is to not jump in with both feet on the new and wonderful; let a little research and time prove the benefits or hazards first.  Think kudzu and you realize some things needed further research. 

Is a wait and see philosophy moderation?  No, I tend to think of it as aggressively wanting proof of the benefits and safety of an item. 

Now, I’m off to get aggressive with some crabgrass.  It’s either that or buy some goats!

Photos are from the road side plants near our home. 

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