[Guest post by Barbara Mrgich]
Many years ago, as a beginning gardener, I signed up for a six week vegetable gardening course which turned out to be a study of what chemicals to apply and when. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I instinctively knew that wasn’t it.
A little later, I received a mail order offer for a Robert Rodale book. Robert Rodale, as you may know was a pioneer in organic gardening. I read the book, and I was hooked! I loved the whole philosophy of living life naturally as God intended, and trying to be part of the solution, not the problem. I have been an organic gardener ever since.
Last year, a member of our local garden club spoke to us on the topic of how to get our yard certified as a wildlife habitat providing food, shelter, and a safe place to raise young. It got me thinking that maybe my garden on our small suburban lot could have some importance to someone other than myself.
I have a wide variety of plants, many of which are native. I read the requirements of the National Wildlife Federation to qualify for the certificate which is intended to be a sign that you post in your yard. I wouldn’t have to change anything to qualify, but I wondered what the benefit of actually getting the sign might be.
Thanks to the instant world of the internet, I was able to google my question,”Why should I be interested?” and was immediately introduced to Carole Sevilla Brown of Ecosystem Gardening.
She has a series of intriguing articles, and, in a nutshell, here’s what she is saying that speaks to me. Wildlife habitat is not just referring to deer, squirrels, rabbits, etc. There is a huge world of birds, butterflies, bees, beneficial insects and life forms, that many people spend a lifetime never noticing.Without all of us realizing it, these critters play a critical role in our own survival.
Think food. She points out that each time a superstore, shopping center, highway, or even a house is built, natural wildlife habitat is destroyed. Many important species are slowly declining because their natural habitats are being destroyed. Add to this the problem of so many invasive species of imported plants that are crowding out the native habitats even further, and you begin to appreciate the problem.
THE BIG POINT: There is actually something we can each do to help alleviate the problem. As Carole points out, if each of us would do just one thing to create some type of habitat for one species on our own property, it would be more than most people ever do.
Let’s say, for instance, that you are interested in promoting a better habitat for birds and butterflies. Learning about their life cycles, and providing beneficial plants is a big help to them. Working on your own yard is helpful. Getting all your neighbors to work together is even more helpful. Exposure and education are the key.
So why apply for the wildlife habitat sign? Exposure. It will announce to your neighbors that you are interested. It will open the door for conversation. Possibly gifting your neighbor with a good native plant will open the door to more conversation which can then lead to more education. Isn’t that what being a Penn State Master Gardener is all about?
I felt the same way I did the day I discovered organic gardening. I’M IN! Helping to preserve God’s earth, learning new things, gardening, and conversation. Sign me up!
Barbara Mrgich is a Penn State Master Gardener. She writes gardening articles for the local newspapers
© 2013, Guest Author. All rights reserved. This article is the property of BeautifulWildlifeGarden.com If you are reading this at another site, please report that to us