Category Archives: Plant Protection League

Do we really need another gardening blog?

Yes. Yes we do. We need a gardening blog that does not promote weird and ineffective methods to manage plant diseases or insects.  When a pathogen is wrecking my zukes, I do not offer them milk, or cookies, or a nice cup of chamomile tea.  To all the bloggers who say  “no to chemicals”, I reply “Um, water is a chemical.” So is fertilizer—organic and synthetic both are chock full of chemicals. In fact, organic has even more chemicals in their fertilizer, so…. So, I say yes to chemicals. In the battle for my tomatoes, “The price of liberty tomatoes is eternal vigilance.” That would be cultural practices. And chemicals. Lovely, synthetic chemicals, when, applied at the right time, stop the nasty little pathogens or insects from eating my plants.

Slide1I should also say “I love the smell of napalm daconil in the morning.” Okay, enough of the butchered movie quotes. I love gardening. But it isn’t just the process that I love, but the produce. And I take umbrage with any organism that gets greedy. I’m happy to share…to a point. A very limited point.

For the record, I do enjoy documenting when it all goes bad. And it goes bad. In the coevolutionary arms race between people, plants and pathogens, my money is on the pathogens. They outnumber us a trillion to one, and insects, outnumber us a few hundred thousand to one. They have us outnumbered, outgunned, and we are surrounded. And they use chemicals!

So should we. That said, we shouldn’t rely on them. That would be stupid. And we sure as hell shouldn’t abuse or misuse them. But, we have this industry in garden writing, I’ll call it the organic propaganda complex, which eschews any piece of garden management technology that occurred after 1870. And that is crazy. The Amish growers I work with are more are more progressive (way more progressive!). And that bothers me.

I hope it bothers you, too.

Sometimes, it drives me to drink, which is another topic I like to talk about. Alcohol, aka ethanol, is a chemical, too. I think it is one of my favorite chemicals. This is an instance where plants and fungi work with humans to create a beautiful thing-Alcohol. And when I drink, I need to eat. So it all comes full circle-Plants-Fungi-Alcohol-Plants. I hope you join me on this merry-go-round.

The Impolite Botanist

In ‘Cultivating Women, Cultivating Science,’ Ann Shteir highlights the role of John Lindley. Lindley was a complex character, whose contributions and role in botany (and the preservation of Kew Gardens) should not be overlooked. That said, the man had issues, as did many men of his day, and he was determined to separate “polite botany” that was performed by Victorian women of the upper class, and that was for “the serious thoughts of man”. I would have called this blog the Polite Botanist, except anyone that knows me would know it was ironic. So, the Impolite Botanist was born. Labor was only a few hours, and fairly bloodless. So far.