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Gardening From New Zealand
by Gill Jackson
March 10, 2002

RosieGill.jpg (43266 bytes)With regard to this last weekend, now been and gone, I did really have good intentions... The man of the house had been threatening to take the chainsaw to the garden as it is so overgrown and he has been getting cranky about the roses that attack him every time he walks down the garden path (actually... I not too sure where that garden path is located at present!) . So, on awakening bright and early Saturday morning I thought ‘right, action today - a lot of work to be attended to’. Alas, all good intentions flew out the window when I picked up a book recently loaned to me ‘ - Linda Woodrow’s book on Permaculture. The philosophy behind permaculture is one of working with, rather than against, nature. The writer also answered a question for me - one that I get asked quite often - “What should I do about too many pests?”. Linda’s answer is “We need to change the way we see and define this question. We should be asking the question - “What should I do about too few predators?” 
This to me is a much more logical way of looking at things. It brought to mind the fact that I have many lacewings on my plants at present, all sucking away merrily on the stems of my beloved plants. The Wisteria on our balcony is covered with these little suckers and I have been wondering why, over the last few days, the sparrows and blackbirds are constantly on our deck and the sparrows are fluttering at the ranchsliders as though asking me to let them in. But now that I properly open my eyes, I see that as a breeze hits the wisteria the lacewings flutter out on to the deck and windows and the birds are busily feeding on them. Nature is so clever. 
Pests, are only ‘pests’ to our way of thinking. An aphid on a rosebush offers a tasty delight to a ladybird. Eradicate these aphids and the ladybirds move on to more succulent pastures. We need to lure in more ladybirds and predators and we can only do this by supplying them with an abundance of ‘bad’ bugs. Spiders are prodigious hunters and should be welcomed in our gardens as are birds. Praying mantis are in abundant proportions at present and although the praying mantis eat the monarch caterpillars, they also eat wasps and other baddies. (My one complaint about these little critters is that they will persist in coming through my office window and laying theiir cases in my office - I am terrified that one day they will enter into my computer innards and really really upset the machine!). 
So, thanks to Linda, I had a very restful pleasant weekend. Her closing chapter told me “Do not be too ruthless with weeds. Many of them are sheltering pest predators, decoying pests and improving soil. If there is no reason to remove them, leave them alone and watch”. Well, that was good enough for me! I put away my gardening gloves, ignored the puha poking through my roses and picked up a gardening magazine and looked at perfect and tidy gardens that are bugless/birdless and do not have a puha in sight! 

Happy Gardening! 

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