When it comes to garden pests, I am torn between a live-and-let-live stance and saving my harvest. When the environment cannot be balanced, eradication often means killing the pests. Therein lies the paradox of all gardens.
Balance is fleeting, as nature is never static. Harmony lies in an endless round of eating and being eaten – killing at its most primal. The reality is that all creatures kill to live: earthworms eat bacteria, aphids eat leaves, ants farm aphids, spiders eat ants, and so on up the food chain to us.
While I conceptually abhor killing, I am greatly pained to idly watch my cucumber, squash, and green crops be decimated without intervening. Was it too much water? not enough? loss of a predator? Any intervention on my part will change the balance of life forms in the garden. This is the microcosm reflecting the macrocosm.
We humans have changed the balance of our environments throughout history, simply by existing. We alter the landscape through agriculture, mining, and building. We have killed ecosystems indiscriminately through our carelessness, wastefulness, and lack of mindfulness. It is up to us to alter our collective mindset and behavior to one of sustainable stewardship.
So back to the microcosm of the garden: I admit to a halfway measure to salvage crops. I added sand and diatomaceous earth only around the tender greens. This impedes the roly-polies by lacerating their gills. Grisly, but effective. This specifically treats the plants that were being eaten, and does the least harm to beneficial insect allies, allowing balance to be restored. The plants will be spared to be shared by all the garden denizens, including humans.
— January Nordman