By Heather Kirk-Ballard: LSU AgCenter Horticulturist
When I was growing up, the word alternative described the pop trends of the day. It has another meaning to me now. Organic, natural pesticides and fertilizers and native plants are an increasingly popular alternative to synthetic chemicals and fertilizers as well as the heavy use of non-native plants and practices.
How did traditional organic methods become the alternative? Isn’t that the definition of an oxymoron? With the invention and use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, farmers were able to increase food and crop production to support the world’s increasing population. That’s a good thing, right? Yes. However, the overuse of chemicals has had a negative effect on our pollinators and ecosystems.
Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we take. They increase our crop quality and values each year by more than $15 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Pollinators, specifically honeybees, have been in serious decline for more than three decades in the United States.
A large variety of pollinating insects make their homes in urban and suburban landscapes. Gardens and landscapes can be designed and managed in an alternative way so that they can support ecosystems rather than harming them.
Landscapes that support a wide array of pollinators help contribute to biodiversity and enhance local ecosystems in so many ways. As you go about your spring gardening this