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sunflower seeds
cold climate
harsh environment
sentient beings
Philosophy Of Gardening
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Philosophy Of Gardening

Why create a garden? Especially, why create a garden in an unpredictable and often harsh environment, as the cold climate garden in the High Sierra can be? Some obvious answers are to enjoy the beauty of it, to landscape and add to the presence of a home or property, to grow and produce food, to control erosion and contribute to a healthy soil.

I came across an interesting attitude in conversation with an acquaintance just recently. It centered on fighting off what to this individual are garden invaders - trapping chipmunks and squirrels, beating the birds to the sunflower seeds and produce, doing everything possible to keep nature’s creatures out of the garden. Okay, it was more than an interesting attitude to me; it was shocking and somewhat unfathomable.

Yes, I do understand the disappointment when the neighborhood cats dig up a newly planted bed, when the squirrels or blue jays (usually) eat some of the strawberry crop, when gophers, moles, earwigs, and you-name-it damage plants. I do understand putting some safe, non-toxic, and humane protections in place, such as wire fencing or crop covers. But to be at enmity with the wildlife? To cause harm to life when life is what we are creating in a garden? To see creatures as interlopers who do not belong, who do not have a place and rights in the habitat? This attitude seems the antithesis of (my) gardening philosophy.

Can we not include instead of exclude? Can we not see our place in the universe and act in harmony with all of life? Value all sentient beings?

My strong suggestion is to create a habitat inclusive of all the creatures. In fact, there is great joy in the gardens being an environment that attracts, nourishes, and provides cover and nesting opportunities for and to whoever chooses to visit. One thing we can do is plant enough for ourselves and, in addition, enough to share with various wildlife. Why not protect some of a crop humanely and give some to the wildlife? Hardly necessary to trap and kill, is it? Humane traps and transport to a wild area across the river are a solution one friend of mine uses for her too plentiful squirrel and chipmunk visitors.

Now I admit I have used an eco-safe and pet-safe bait for earwigs - and I do feel remorse for doing so. Causing harm to life in whatever form seems such an extreme action - it makes me cringe, but I still want them to stop eating my veggies and flowers! So I am not blameless at all! I’ve tried leaving bug-attracting areas away from places I am cultivating to distract them or using bad-tasting though non-poisonous sprays; though this doesn’t work for long, if at all.

It is the same moral dilemma with yellowjackets and hornets. I have never put out traps, but this year the yard is just overrun and I have been stung too many times to count. I continue to rescue drowning ones from water sources, but feel a little less loving when the poison from the stings stays in my body for days and causes so much discomfort. But am I willing to trap these creatures who want water, pollen, and to reproduce - just what they are made to do? Not yet, at least. It’s a tough decision to make and justify and I can only look to my heart and to wanting to live at harmony with all of life for my answer, in keeping with the creation of life in the garden.

Humans have such a tendency to claim supremacy - though I am not sure dominion is equal to supremacy. At least can we think before we act, search out methods that preserve life and cause no harm whenever consciously possible? I think this is all part of the vibrations of a healthy garden - those gardening aids unseen but contributory to a harmonious habitat for all of life.


Street Talk

You can always look at it like this, the animals are getting enjoyment out of the garden, lol. Great article!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

We love to share our garden with wildlife! It's fun to see all the different animals come in to enjoy a snack or two. We also have our protected crops and trees as well. As for earwigs, we don't have to worry much about them here in NM. Enjoyed your article, was a great read!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Thanks for reading it!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

If you build a proper eco system it will all balance out. I love this line of thinking!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

You are so right Shawn! Exactly!

Reply
  about 9 years ago

you have given this a lot of thought, I admire your thinking on this subject..I will give it more consideration in my back yard

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Do you have a big garden?

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Yes, but my vegetable garden is smaller and more limited than my flower gardens due to our short season and unpredictable climate. Somehow the perennial flowers just hang in there and are abundant, but with vegetables, I usually lose a couple of plantings to unexpected snow in June or something like that before I get a successful crop.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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