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Quote of the Day: Josh Kilmer-Purcell

March 3rd, 2013

I’d been selfish. I hadn’t yet realized that the true goal of organic farming wasn’t harvesting crops in spite of bugs, pests and predators. It was about harvesting crops alongside of them. It was about planting more than the amount we need. And it was about making sure there was enough extra to go around for everything that made it’s home on the farm. For every sparrow I’d killed in the netting on my cherry tree, there would be millions of fewer seeds spread over the fields from their droppings and millions of uneaten bugs, which would in turn attack our vegetable garden. We’d be paying for our unblemished cherries in some way or another for the rest of the season. Sure, we hadn’t sprayed chemicals all over the cherries. But we’d been just as deadly.

Josh Kilmer-Purcell (The Bucolic Plague: How Two Manhattanites Became Gentlemen Farmers)

When I read this book, this quote really resonated with me because of my stance on dealing with insects in the garden. You can read more about my methods and ideals for “pest” control in the post titled: Empty Shelves. I’d like to encourage you this gardening season to be proactive rather reactive when it comes to controlling pests.
birds 2
birds in the garden 1
Put up a bird feeder, add a garden pond or small water feature, plant lots of plants that attract pollinators, add a few extra plants to share with nature. Realize that every action you take in the garden will have far reaching consequences, generally the opposite of what you were hoping for.
pond garden 2
birds in the garden 1 (1)
chickens and clarington forge
hummingbird on a line
Birds will be one of your greatest allies in the garden, anything you can do to attract and keep them will be of great benefit to your garden. Hummingbirds eat thousands of mosquitos, chickens eat loads of insects as do ducks. If you can have chickens and ducks, consider adding them. If not, put up a birdfeeder and a birdbath, plant things for our feathered friends and watch in amazement at how important of a garden partner they can be. I wrote and entire series on attracting birds to the garden for the Your Day Blog: For Our Feathered Friends.

In what ways do you think you are proactive instead of reactive when it comes to garden pests/problems?


May 11th, 2011

Last year Mr Chiots and I installed a small pond in our garden. We filled it with goldfish and surrounded it with rocks and plants. Sadly our fish didn’t make it last summer but we did see the occasionally toad soaking in the pond. We let the leaves collect in the pond over the winter to get a good layer of natural muck in it before adding some new fish this spring. We figured this would make the water more like regular pond water. So far it seems to be working as our fish have survived longer than they did last year (last year they got the ick).

When I was out looking at the pond a week ago I noticed toad tadpoles – or toadpoles as we call them. It’s super excited to see the pond swimming with thousands of these little guys. Why was I so excited to see so many toadpoles?

Toads are one of the best forms of “organic” pest control that you can have in the garden. They eat slugs and many other common garden pests. When we first moved in, our garden were infested with slugs and earwigs. We didn’t want to use any chemicals, so layed a few boards in the flowerbeds to attract toads. The next year we saw a big toad and ever since then I rarely see a slug or an earwig.

To encourage toads to move into your garden place a few large flat rocks or small boards in your flowerbeds. Installing a small pond will also attract not only them but other beneficial things as well, like birds. Of course you’ll want fish to keep the mosquitos at bay. You don’t necessarily need the pond, but it sure does help if they have a spot to reproduce.

Toads appreciate moisture all season long, so if you make sure you have moist areas for them to encourage them to stick around. Perhaps you can keep one area of your garden watered more than others, add some water loving plants. You can also install simple water features for toads, beneficial insect and birds by placing a pot saucer on the ground filled with river stones. Make sure you dump out the water and add fresh each week to keep mosquitos from breeding (although mosquitos feed bats, hummingbirds and other animals so I don’t worry too much about them either).

Be warned, if you use any kind of treatment for slugs, even “organic” ones you can inadvertently kill toads, frogs, birds, and fish. So don’t use them if you’re trying to attract toads to your garden. Remember, if you want a beneficial insect or animal to move in you often have to allow the pest insect population to reach a certain level to attract them. You may lose a crop of something one year, but you’ll save so much time and money by not having to use pesticides (even organic ones). You’ll also end up with a healthier ecosystem in your garden, which in turn makes your plants healthier!

Do you have toads in your gardens? Do you do anything specific to attract them?


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.