The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Even Good Lovejoy Nods - My Problem with Killing Garden Pests -
They Are Food for the Beneficial Creatures.
Feed Them and They Will Come


Everyone is in a storm today. We expect our drenching rain to turn into sleet and then snow. Our weather prediction is - travel will be difficult to impossible.

Yesterday we went to foot doctor, so I took Trowel and Error along. The classical scholars, who have noticed flaws in Homer's Iliad, have a saying, "Even good Homer nods." In other words, the ultimate author, the foundation for all Western literature, was not quite perfect. Nor can any human author be perfect, without contractions. God has published only one Book, and that remains the only one without errors or contradictions.

These tiny ichabod - I mean ichneumon wasps -
will destroy the pests that harm the garden.


Balance of Nature - the Creator's Plan
So far, with my budding Lovejoy library of three books, I am overwhelmed with her knowledge, experience, and observations about Creation. But in one area I part company with her advice.

The balance of nature - really, the design of Creation - is "feed them and they will come."

Here is my expert in that area, who agrees with what my mother taught me 50 years ago.

It’s important to see that the population of predators always lags behind that of the prey (this is particularly true if a parasitoid is involved, as their lag time is actually a generation or two behind their host prey). If you put it on paper, it looks much like two undulating, wavy lines with the one representing the predators always hitting its peak slightly after the one representing the prey. In an undisturbed cycle, neither the population of predators nor that of prey will ever hit zero. This means that in order to sustain a healthy population of predators in the garden, one always has to have prey available. 

and it matters because … 

What does this cycle mean to a gardener or farmer? Well, all too often we take notice of a population of naughty pest insects (the prey) when their numbers hit the high point in the cycle. In the case of a pest outbreak, this also happens to be about the same time there are enough prey insects present to start luring in the beneficials. We do something to get rid of the pests just when our little natural army is beginning to work their magic. Whether we choose to eradicate the pests with a synthetic or a natural pesticide, we are inserting ourselves into the predator–prey cycle. It’s a place where, more often than not, we don’t belong. The biggest lesson here is to understand this natural cycle and be willing to take yourself out of it when the time comes.

Walliser, Jessica (2014-02-26). Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden: A Natural Approach to Pest Control (Kindle Locations 284-295). Timber Press. Kindle Edition. 

Lady beetles, named for the Virgin Mary, arrive in armadas to eat cottony scale insects,
but insect sprays kill them by the thousands.
A good idea to spray or pluck up their food? No.


Back to Lovejoy - Put Down that Weapon!
I was reading Trowel and Error in the reception room when I happened upon advice for killing insects in the garden. The basic ingredient was detergent! - in spite of many Lovejoy cautions against anything ending in "cide."

Nothing is quite so harmful to all life than detergent. As they discovered with dispersing oil spills in the ocean, detergent kills everything, wiping out life from the microscopic on up. Mrs. I's engineering firm learned about that in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska. Oil is natural and disperses itself in time. Detergents aimed at crude oil eliminate all life, all fish. Birds that eat fish are going to die or move away from Ground Zero. Yes, crude oil spills are bad - but detergents are worse.

Killing all life through detergents is bad by itself, but a second problem is killing the food of beneficial insects. Take away their food and they go elsewhere to dwell, or they dwindle away.

"If you pluck up and kill my food,
I will work at the Jackson's."

When we had asparagus beetles eating the plants away, we parked a praying mantis egg case on the ferns. The insects hatched and had a feast, the damage stopped.

Other suggestions about "pests" are aimed at weeds, which are valuable in the right place. A weed that produces a lot of seed will attract birds while sheltering insects and other wildlife. Ragweed is easily treated in the lawn with regular mowing, using a mulching blade. The ginormous crab-like plant, brought over for grain, will not develop and will not go to seed. Spray or burn a mature one and the lawn will look like it was bombed.

So-called weeds are great in a wild area, with many benefits - improving the soil, feeding wildlife, and helping the bee population.

Still a Lovejoy Fan
The vast amount of Lovejoy lore shows an enormous appreciation for God's Creation, how it all integrates - every creature and plant has a purpose.

My first Lovejoy lesson was using more seedy plants, to benefit birds and bees. Now I am looking for ways to grow more berries for birds, more seeds for birds, more shelter for birds. The bees benefit at the same time, and they all benefit us, the paragons of God's Creation.

My second Lovejoy lesson was increasing the diversity of creatures and plants, which is also the plan for Queen Elizabeth's private gardens.

Sharon Lovejoy lets this beautiful herb grow, bloom, and go to seed,
as I do. The parachute seeds are good for hummingbird nests.
Only a cad would take those away.