Putting the “Ugh” in an Ugly Garden

I want to tell you all about my lovely  June garden… I want to post beautifully composed photos of the peas going gangbusters, of the fresh strawberries we pick to sweeten our morning cereal,  the lovely  green beans  in full flower,  and the prairie forbes  just opening their petals to the sky.


But tell the truth and shame the Devil, my Grandma Juanita used to say. I’m a sho’ nuff knotty-headed organic gardener and I’ve got to tell it like it is.  Something is going on in my garden this year, something that puts the “ugh” in an ugly garden.   Brace yourselves.

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The Organic Purity Test

Brace yourself, gentle reader.  The time for confession is at hand.  I am coming out of the organic garden closet.

I have used Round-Up.

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Ecological Pest Control II: Soil Biodiversity

Where We Have Been

New readers  following my philosophy of organic pest control can click here for links to the entire series as well as for a brief synopsis of the argument as it has evolved in the four previous installments.


Friends, we have to talk about weeds.  Soberly.  Perhaps even tenderly.

Weeds can bring the hardiest of gardeners to tears; they can turn a reasonable adult into a tantrum-tossing two year old.  They can make a sanctified granny take the Lord’s name in vain.  Brace yourselves, because I’ve got to tell it straight-from-the-hip the way I see it: weeds are an integral part of a functional, maximally biodiverse ecosystem.  As such, they are also part of the organic gardener’s ecological pest-control tool-kit.

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Ecological Pest Control I: Soil Biodiversity

Where We Have Been:

In Organic Pest Control III: Acts of Gardening Violence, Petty and Profound, I suggested a conceptual framework for organic pest control based on the notion that labor intensive interventions are ecologically harmful.  This  framework is intended to help organic ecosystem-ers decide when, whether and how to deploy ecological, mechanical, and chemical pest interventions in a selective rather than reactive manner, based upon the peculiar ecologies in which they are working, and based upon their gardening goals and personal resources.

We will explore each intervention — ecological, mechanical, and chemical — in more detail as we progress over the next several installments.  I want to begin with ecological intervention, the very chassis of organic pest control.

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