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Gardening with Laurie: Don't mess with Mother Nature

By By Laurie Garretson
July 5, 2012 at 2:05 a.m.


Modern technology can be a wonderful thing. There are so many products we have available to us today that really do make our gardening chores easier. Take for example the weed eater - I don't remember having a weed eater in our garage when I was a child. My parents had a pair of garden hand clippers that were used to trim the grass.

They'd get on their hands and knees and cut the grass away from the curbs and sidewalks. And when the lawn work was finished, we brought out the broom to clean up. There was no such thing as a yard blower to my recollection. Yes, modern technology has helped to make many jobs easier, including yard work.

To me, it sometimes seems like this modern technology has gone just a bit too far. Different gadgets to help with the yard work are great. But when we start messing with nature, well that's a whole other matter.

I read an article online the other day about a team of researchers at the Nagoya University Graduate School of Bioagricultural Sciences in Japan that has developed a way to prevent ladybugs from flying away. They have produced flightless ladybugs. Ladybugs are one of the beneficial beetles that eat pest insects.

Common ladybugs do have wings that get them from plant to plant, whether it be in your yard or several streets away. Well, these researchers found a way to stunt the development of the wings while the ladybugs were in their pupal state.

If the ladybugs can't fly, they aren't going to wander off as quickly as they could with wings. This could be a big advantage for commercial growers who don't wish to use chemical insecticides. If the growers release ladybugs that can't fly on their crops, they are more assured that the ladybugs will stick around and eat more of the pests. But doesn't this mess with the balance of nature?

Have you heard that scientist have found out why store-bought tomatoes aren't as sweet as homegrown? A recent issue of the journal "Science" tells how scientists discovered that when tomatoes are bred for firmness, good shipping and uniformity, that process also inadvertently turns off the sugar producing switch.

This sounds to me like another time when humans have tried to change the basics of a natural thing to make it better for man. Isn't there an old saying, "Don't mess with Mother Nature?"

It seems that any time we try to alter nature, the results might be good at first but, sooner or later, we see a detrimental effect caused by these changes. No sir, it just doesn't pay to mess with Mother Nature.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to laurie@vicad.com or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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