Answers to your gardening questions
effective Deer Fence!
JUST CAN'T DO THAT ANYMORE!
Welcome through Fred's
Garden Gate! Familiarity with the past hangs around as though it was
attached with Velcro! Old ways – old methods – old ideas – old
attitudes – really die hard! Take for example the worn out
concept of labor-intensive, long-term, three-to-six-to-twelve-month
(or more!) composting.
Used to be that gardeners and small farmers gathered their organic ingredients, layered them according to ancient routines and formulas then began a drudgery closely akin to grave digging. Turn the pile this way; turn the pile that way; mix it over and over again, sometimes four or five times during the process until finally, after months of waiting and perspiration, frayed patience and flocks of rampaging birds, mammals and flies, a gardener reaped the rewards of a little compost. Twice a season was the limit…if the gardener was lucky! More often than not, one tour of duty in a compost pile was all that limited time and energy could possibly afford. But, in a great many cases, the real end result was discouragement brought upon by exhaustion...and the realization that, whatever the benefits, it just isn't worth the time, the effort, the drudgery. Thus endeth the composting experience for that disillusioned composter! For them it was easier to just pay the $3 or $4 to buy a bag of the stuff at the local garden center.
Notice I keep using the word, was. Well, those days of slow composting are over! That’s right – you can have your finished compost in three weeks…21 days from the moment the pile (or heap) is constructed. No foolin’! It takes five recycled pallets (to form an enclosure with ventilation at the bottom (planks, cement blocks or sturdy wire mesh will do just as well but may involve some additional expense); ten or twelve pieces of perforated pipe from our local salvage outlet (1¼-inch black plastic from Marden's works for me, cut into 4½-foot lengths); and enough of the correct proportion of green and brown organic material to fill it to the top. With perforated pipe placed to provide maximum ventilation, plus the correct moisture content and mix recipe, shredded to the correct particle size, the process is pure simplicity. Complete instructions are contained in the article, "Fast Composting" (use your browser's "Back" button to return here). There's also a downloadable color brochure (in .pdf format): 21-Day, No-Turn composting. There's an entire chapter on composting in the full-length book, Keys to the Garden Gate. Your complimentary copy is waiting for you on this site.
Close on the heels of antiquated composting methods comes the now-outdated idea that every tiny weed, or little nibble or spot on garden and small farm foliage requires an immediate and frantic flight to the commercial pesticide shelf at your local poisons distributor. The time has arrived for all who work the soil to at least seriously consider dramatic shifts in gardening priorities. Recall that DDT was a complete disaster with devastating long-term effects; 2-4-5T (high-potency defoliant – weed killer – popular during the 50’s and 60’s is now known to be the direct cause of cruel physiologic and genetic consequences); arsenic, nicotine and strychnine were once common items found in far too many basements, garages and, believe it or not, kitchens…tens — perhaps hundreds — of thousands of poisonings and deaths have been directly attributed to misuse of these and many other potent toxic chemicals once thought to be safe.
So, today we have such hideously-dangerous pesticides as Orthene, Parathion, Diazinon, Methoxiclor, Triox, and fungicides — and God only knows what else — so potentially lethal that it’s now necessary for manufacturers to include several pages of precautionary verbiage and legal ruggamugga to – if you’ll pardon my candid language – cover their backsides. Why do you suppose they feel it necessary to do that? A fifth-grader with a failing grade would be able to figure it out! A half-blind, paraplegic orangutan with a third-grade education and a D-minus average would know better than poison or foul his own habitat, for Pete's sake! Humans are supposed to have better sense...yet we continue to pour millions of tons of death on our food and drink, and play gods in our tinkering with genetics. Guess where it's going to end!
The stuff is dangerous…it can kill or maim – or worse (if you can imagine such a thing), and may very well cause the same physiologic and genetic destruction or disruption of which the passage of time has proven their predecessors to be guilty. Are you willing to ignore the validated record of history and, by doing so, risk that kind of genetic disruption – or worse – for the next several generations just to have a leaf without a spot on it? I’m not. My grandchildren are far too precious. Powerful chemicals that can be bought over the counter at virtually any garden center, hardware store or feed store are clearly and undeniably an unacceptable uncertainty. Please don't choose that method for your children and grandchildren (and mine) to die!
We are surrounded by safe, much-less-harmful-to-humans-and-pets alternatives to powerful and potentially lethal garden and farm poisons. Yes…I know, they can be dangerous if handled improperly, as well; they too must be applied thoughtfully, wisely, and with common sense – but is that any reason to continue to spread, pour or spray materials with large skulls and cross-bones plastered all over them?
And, while you're at it, please don't encourage bio-genetic scientists and researchers in their race toward dabbling with the genetics of our food supply.
Inserting cellular material from Bacillus thuringiensis bacteria into new corn varieties to make them able to actually kill corn borers and corn earworms will — guaranteed — eventually be subverted by a very clever, accommodating, and predictable "Nature". Tinkering with genetics to enable food crop plants to resist damage from herbicides will — guaranteed — lead to consequences that the scientists, researchers, and "experts" never imagined or anticipated.
Think it'll never happen? Go back up and re-read the 4th paragraph of this article.
Here's another unanticipated total environmental disaster: Remember the "miracle" of DDT? "Oh, yes...this is great!" they cried. "This material is perfectly safe!" still echoes in the ears and hearts of millions whose lives are forever changed, crushed and/or devastated. "This will revolutionize agriculture" .... "Insect-borne diseases will soon be a thing of the past!" .... "This will help us feed the world's hungry masses," .... "All our troubles are over!" came the siren songs of highly-respected scientists who had no conception of—or apparent interest in—the down-the-road dangers. Seems they never even gave it a thought.
Can it happen again? Well....yeah! Are we going to just sit there and let them do it again? Probably.
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