Thursday, July 18, 2013

Aliens vs. Predators

It's been an extremely hectic week here at Groundwell Farm.  You see, it was time for the pre-tomato-onslaught- cleanup.  Once tomatoes begin really rolling in (we picked a half bushel yesterday) there will be no hope for getting time to clean house, and having barely finished spending most of our last month planting and cultivating, the house was a disaster.  Now that that cleanup is done, and I'm ready for the great red wave, I find myself increasingly pleased that we gave up on mowing most of our place this year.  Mowing takes a lot of time, and though I can say that I do enjoy the look of a fully conquered lawn, there are positive aspects of not mowing that I'm only just realizing.

I have been mowing over at Peace of Heaven Ranch around the corner from us.  As a matter of fact, last week I mowed three times in three days (carefully avoiding the thick patches of passionflower.)

And though I was pleased with the results, I noticed as a rode round and round the field that there was a veritable multitude of little frogs and other creatures trying desperately to get out of the way.  That got me to thinking about the advantages of our own un-mown paradise.
Tall weeds like this ragweed provide shade for any number of predatory critters and roosting places for flycatchers and other insect devouring birds.
Patches of wild amaranth act as a trap crop, particularly for cucumber beetles who seem to find it much more tasty that my young cucumber plants.  The amaranth can also provide a tiny, nutritious grain, as a special bonus.
Every time I walk past this small, weed surrounded water feature in the garden(look closely), I hear the plop, plop of small, insect devouring frogs.
Brush piles are hosts to toads, snakes (which dine on the mice who enjoy eating our potatoes) and carnivorous dragonflies as well.

If you think of the insect pests as aliens, and the predators as, well, predators, then I believe it is plain that we have managed to stack the deck in favor of the predators by allowing them to live their lives without the constant fear of death by whirling lawnmower blades and weedeater strings. These predators are repaying the favor by devouring the garden aliens en masse.

Doesn't it just make you want to take that loud, smelly lawnmower or yours to the junkyard?  Probably not.  But I, for one, will remain ever grateful to our host of garden predators and their weedy homes.

No comments:

Post a Comment