2011 was a good year for us, we had plenty of vegetables at the end season but as the season went on I noticed a decline in bees and butterflies, and I also noticed that the soil seemed thinner, drier, dead. To that end I ran an experiment in a corner of the garden I hadn't sprayed, adding organic mulch and covering before planting through in 2012. In 2012 I could have put the lack of bees and butterflies down to the worst summer we'd had in a long time but that would be passing the buck, finding another excuse rather than a solution. The organic bed I created proved this, the bed thrived whilst other beds suffered and died. That's what started my desire to set things right and get back to my organic roots.
In 2012 we were also hit by one of the worst infestations of sheep's sorrel in every other bed than the organic one - though a medicinal plant, sheep's sorrel is invasive and chokes other plants. My initial spraying in early 2011 had woken up these dormant seeds and now I had a full on revolt in the border. I could have reached for the weedkiller again but I didn't, instead I studied the plant, found it's life cycle and dug it out, inch by inch, over hundreds of feet. I did my penance and as I cleared I resowed those areas with plants that locked in nitrogen to the soil and were rich in nectar. To that end I have even started a bee bank, to promote, protect and support bees, butterflies and moths. There will be flowers throughout the garden, even the fruit has been selected for the flowers that support wildlife. The strimmer will only be used to the clear the orchard once a year, to promote seed dispersal rather than every fortnight. I will embrace mulches and no digging to protect the soil.
You may still, as I write this, be reaching for the sprays, the growth hormone chemicals and the coated seed. You may swear by them, but stop for a moment and understand a few things, nature finds a balance. As one of our members pointed out on our Facebook Page, 'in 2011 I was overrun with green and blackfly so sent off for organic pest killer.....by the time it arrived good bugs had moved in and killed them all off'. Sometimes, all we need is time or else as another Pig Rower said on our Facebook Page 'May as well give out free cough sweets with every pack of 20 Marlboro lights as well'. Now we all know the link there, so why aren't we making the link with the food we eat, the plants we sow and the land we live with? For the record, I will never reach for a chemical spray again, I will never seek to destroy the soil and break the cycle between bacteria, bees, butterflies, bugs, plants and me. Nature finds a balance and we have to be in that balance, work with it not against it.