Tuesday, July 06, 2004

A Nettlesome Dilemma

Stinging nettles not only thrive in former places of human habitation (see below, Momento mori). They are also taking over our hedgerows and roadside ditches.

What used to be natural gardens abloom with buttercups, herb Robert, speedwell, foxglove, bramble rose, honeysuckle, clover and vetch are now obnoxious banks of nettles. Also gone are many species of butterflies, birds, insects, slugs and small mammals.

The culprit is run-off from large monocrop fields made fertile with artificial fertilizers rich in phosphates and nitrates.

Whereas farmers hereabouts used to maintain the fertility of their many small fields with animal manure and rotation of crops, now it all comes out of a bag.

But it would take a harder man than me to tell my neighbors they must give up their shiny SUVs, mobile phones, and trips to Orlando and go back to the old labor-intensive ways of wresting a meager living from the land.