Thursday, March 17, 2016


My little helper 
Responsibility is learned.  We learn it through experience or from being taught.

How does responsibility transfer to gardening or working the land?  It’s in every phase of earth’s products.

To understand personal responsibility for the land, you either have to be taught how all phases of gardening and farming works or want to know bad enough to find out for yourself. 

Blessed are those whose family taught them how to use the earth responsibly.  As youngsters, my brother and I walked all the roadsides of our farm every spring picking up other people’s trash.  I still walk down our road doing this. Thanks to this early lesson, I don’t throw out trash for others to clean up.  As the British say, “It just isn’t done.”

Beautiful farm fields
Most farm families stress responsible land management and preservation.  Except for the greed factor of a few, American farmers will be among the most knowledgeable and responsible of protectors.  WHAT!  What about those chemicals? 

Because I was raised on a farm, I still have a strong conviction that American farmers do they best they can with what they know at the time.  No matter what line of work we pursue we must balance all decisions with giving the public what they want and what they need with information we have at that moment against how to do that without going broke. 

Provide lots of color to attract beneficial insects
Dad used DDT on his animals and around the yard to prevent serious pest problems.  When it was found to cause other serious problems, he stopped. 
Responsibility means keeping highly informed on proven extensive research to make sound decisions.

Gardeners have that responsibility because every little piece of this earth produces ramifications to the environment.  What can those of us living in this area do in our yards?

If you don’t want to kill beneficial insects you must stop using insecticides indiscriminately.  To understand that, you must know how and when beneficial insects use your plants.  There are times when insecticides may be targeted in a way to kill only the harmful insects and not beneficials but it takes knowledge and responsibility.

As a gardener, I realize my responsibility is for only a small bit of land, doesn’t have any impact upon my income and I can treat my vegetables easier than acres of crops. I still believe my responsibility is personally great. 

In spite of being totally surrounded by field crops, my efforts on this small plot of land have increased the number of beneficial insects in my yard over the last twenty years by enormous numbers.

To garden in a responsible way, provide the necessities for many diverse insects: 
Bee on a Globe Thistle

A water source: I had more bees at my birdbath this year than birds.

Do not use garden, yard or turf insecticides.  Try hand picking; dish washing soap and other natural remedies.

Use fungicides per directions – they were written for a reason.

Learn to live with some disorder and damage.  Birds, game and insects LOVE the disorder of wildflowers and native species.

Use masses of color and fragrance to attract insects and birds.

Plant herbs.  Many insects use herbs for part of their life cycle.  Plant enough that you have some and you can share the rest. 

Provide shade.  Many insects, birds and critters need some shade in the summer.

Scientists have seen 228 different bee species in Illinois.  Most will leave you alone if you don’t bother them.

Bees love a water source
Wasps are nature’s organic pest controllers.  They eat meat and that meat is in the form of spiders and insects.  They are more aggressive than bees but unless they are in your home or near where people can disturb, then leaving them alone might be the best idea.  Most wasps are loners and non-stinging. 

Insect predators and parasites such as Aphid Parasites, Mite Predators, Whitefly Parasites and others need to be encouraged.  These may be purchased for release in your gardens or fields. 

Encourage or at least tolerate bats.  As much as the media wants to scare us into thinking bats are bad, they are very beneficial in controlling insect populations.  If we hadn’t been frightened early in our lives, we’d notice their little faces look very similar to a teddy bear.  Teddy bears with tiny fangs but then nothing is perfect. 

Take responsibility, teach responsibility and act personally responsible on your neighbors and public properties.  It will guarantee a better tomorrow.



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