Saturday, May 06, 2006

Personal Nuclear Devices

It's spring and there's a ton of gardening ads on the tube now - mostly about creating great lawns by nuking the dandelions or whomping a ton of fertilizer onto the plants to produce huge plants and blooms.

The mindset produced by this kind of advertising sells the product for sure but it also produces a mindset that says all gardeners need is a pnukd (pronounced Pee-Nuke-Dee) for all gardening activities.

Want to get rid of the dandelions? Use this pnukd and you'll never see a dandelion again.
Want to get rid of the aphids on your rose? Use this pnukd and you'll kill every bug in your backyard. Painlessly.

The mindset is that we need a single thing to solve our garden problems - we need to eliminate everything (whether we understand it or not) that doesn't conform to what we think is garden perfection. No bugs, no weeds, only lots of massive flowers. And because most gardeners wouldn't recognize a sow bug from an aphid, any bug is a bad one.

In organic gardening, I think we look for the minimum way we can alter our garden. If I have aphids on my roses (and I will) all I do is blast them off with a jet of water. It takes less time, is far cheaper and works much better. The beetles eat the fallen aphids and the water is used by the plants. No poisons. No pnukd. No pest problems on this plant. The aphids still survive in other parts of the garden I'm sure - otherwise the hummingbirds would stop coming round (insects such as aphids are the main part of hummingbird diets). But my roses are not disfigured by this insect. I get the effect I want with a minimum of effort. But it's pretty hard to make money advertising the use of a spray of water to protect your plants.

My sense of things like the lawn is equally bizarre when it comes to chemical gardening. Corn gluten is a wonderful by-product of corn milling that can be spread on lawns to stop seed germination. I use it to stop dandelion seed/crab grass seed etc but the bonus is that it is 10% nitrogen by weight so it is nature's weed and feed. Totally organic - no side effects - the kids can roll in it -the dog can eat it (the dog is probably already eating it in the dog food) and nobody gets hurt except for a few weed seeds we don't want in our lawns. Again - there's no pnukd involved and a minimum intervention that has no effect other than on my immediate lawn area.

Advertising promotes the use of pnukd's on the garden and comes with massive promises of gardening success. By wiping out the ecology, you can have a successful garden!

Organic gardening is tougher to learn - tougher to stick to - but much more effective in the long run.

And that's the stupid problem. Organic gardening is more effective in the long run but advertising promotes solutions to the short run. And we're an impatient society for sure.

I must need a second cup of coffee this morning.


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