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Balance (if you build it, they will come)

Posted 7/12/2010 8:31pm by Shiloh Avery.

parasitized hornworm

When I was in college, my friend Kevin and I went to the fair where we happened upon this psychic who had offered Kevin a free consultation at some point.  I went along and she gave me one too.  I can’t remember if she read my palm or did those little tarot card things, but I remember she kept talking about my need for balance.  I would try to throw her for a loop with some crazy question like, “will there be lots of bugs in my future diet?” and she would tell me again and again, “the most important thing for you is to have balance.”  I must have told her my birthday and she figured since my horoscope sign was a scale and all…but the funny thing is, all these years later I understand this better than she did.  Well, actually there are two funny things.  The first one, which really is funny, is that Jason’s Appalachian Trail name (I guess you have to be there) was “balance.”  I guess I took here literally because I just up and married balance. 

But what I understand now is how important balance is here on the farm.  It is a key component of the organic system, and takes years to fully develop.  But as we strive to build that balance, we’re seeing nature slowly adjust right before our eyes.  The first year we farmed here I frequently found tomato hornworms munching on our tomato plants.  Last year, fewer hornworms (and fewer tomatoes!), but they were still munching on our tomato plants.  This year, we have yet to find a tomato hornworm not parasitized by the native braconid wasp.  The wasp lays its eggs on the hornworm which pupate and feed on the inside the hornworm then hatch out of those little white tubes.  No more hornworm.  Cool huh?  All we did was to manage the farm as a whole organic system, building a welcoming environment for the good bugs to balance out the bad bugs.  “If you build it, they will come.”

 

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