Monday, June 23, 2008

When I was ten, Grandma handed me a pack of Nasturtium seeds

She pointed me to a patch of ground and set me free. I planted those seeds, watered them, and tried to sneak outdoors after dark to see if they were coming up. That was over 50 years ago and things haven't changed much. Even before robins start singing in early spring, my hands are itching to feel the soil, to plunder it for its richness and life, to plant a seed.

Over the years I have learned much about gardens, nurturing them and in turn nurturing all the wildlife that can and should abound in every garden. Everything contributes to the success of a garden. The sun and the rain we know about. Birds, snakes, frogs, lizards, toads, slugs and snails also have a place. And bugs.

Around 97% of all the bugs in our gardens are beneficial - that means either that they have as part of their diet other bugs or they are valuable as pollinators, or both. When we use pesticides, we kill the good bugs along with the bad. That of course wipes out a large part of our arsenal, but it also tends to produce a more militant strain of "bad bug." They develop immunities, become stronger and harder to kill. I will talk more about pesticides later on. I do not use them, never have.

All the pictures I use here are of my own gardens, past or present, none of which has ever seen the use of pesticides or herbicides. Occasionally I have had to start from scratch in a garden, undoing damage that years of pesticides have caused. The soil is often barren of earthworms, beetles, spiders - it's enough to make me cry! But even barren soil can be fixed - it just takes time and caring. If you have leftover pesticides or herbicides, there are places that will dispose of them. Here, in the Pacific NW, we have a very enlightened population and there's help on the web:

But what I'd like to do is start off by giving information about the basics of starting or maintaining an organic garden. There are certain rules that I adhere to, standards that include respecting the life that is already here, waiting to help you build a beautiful, nearly maintenance free, and certainly far less expensive garden, whether it be vegetables or flowers or a combination of both, which happens to be my personal favorite.

So tomorrow, The Basics.

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