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    Gardeners - To Spray or Not To Spray?


    I have found that the further south I move, the bigger the spiders, the higher the snake population - and there is an increase in the number of annoying rodents. (May I mention that I am not a huge fan of any of those “pests”?) 

    In recent years, I would have sprayed the perimeter of the house’s foundation to ward off those large spiders. I would also have placed ‘snake repellent’ throughout my gardens and window-wells to avoid being scared by ‘moving ground’, i.e. snakes. As well, I would have strategically placed poison in the underground tunnels to remove the moles, voles, and mice from my lawn and gardens, so my new plantings would not be root-pruned by those voracious critters.  

    Now that I am a more experienced gardener - and a lot more conscientious of how harmful repellent products can be – if I am patient enough, nature will take care of those pesky problems for me. 

    All of the 150+ trees and bushes that I planted 12 years ago have grown substantially enough, that they have attracted owls and hawks to the backyard, which are keeping most of the larger rodents at bay. 

    The snakes which I identified as being mainly garter snakes have also been helpful at controlling the numbers of mice and ‘scary’ spiders. So I have to be a little bit braver and put up with those slithering creatures, no matter how repulsive I find them. 

    Those caterpillars that seem to find my river birch tree leaves so tasty (which I use to pulverize with water until the caterpillars started to fall on top of my head), can only partake of the leaf-buffet for a couple of days before they seem to become food for song birds. And the big, fat, juicy hornworms (from the sphinx moth) that devour leaves from my datura plants are being quickly controlled naturally by the parasitic braconid wasp. 

    And finally, the gorgeous grey heron - which is regularly seen in my back yard - gracefully wades in the bordering lake, feeding on frogs and insects, and whose statuesque form is such a joy to watch. 

    My gardens are not perfect!

    There are holes in the hosta leaves; I still have to flick off the occasional Japanese red beetle from my David Austin Rose bushes; I have cut down so many ash trees due to the Emerald Ash Borer; and I continue to come across a bunny burrow under a few of my prized perennial plantings. But I have gotten rid of the repellents, and poisons, and traps. I can now sit back on my patio in the cool shade, and watch nature taking care of itself - without any ‘help’ from me.

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