Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bushless Fertilizer (And Spider Milkweed)

How else to name a post suggesting that butterfly bushes are not butterfly magnets nearly as much as caterpillar host plants, or that the production and application of fertilizer is just plain awful for the environment (and the butterflies you want to attract with your bushes).

Debbie Roberts pleads with you to plant perennials, trees, and shrubs that butterflies need to reproduce.

"If you are trying to attract more butterflies to your garden, the first thing you need to understand is that more butterfly bushes do not mean more butterflies. Yes, butterflies do feed on the nectar of butterfly bushes but that’s where the attraction ends. The real key to having more butterflies in your garden is to find out which of the more than 700 species of butterflies in North America are common to your region. Once you know which butterflies are likely to visit your garden, you can start making of a list of appropriate plants to entice them into making your garden their home."

And Michele Owens warns of inorganic fertilizers (or any at all) when you can produce free fertilizer on your own via mulch and water -- i.e. feed the soil microbes. I guess this is what happens when a chemical company contacts a green blog before doing much research about said blog.
  1. The Haber-Bosch synthesis that allows you to manufacture artificial nitrogen from the air requires intense heat and wastes colossal amounts of energy.
  2. Plants often can't use these mega doses of nitrogen all in one go.  
  3. The excess nitrogen turns into nitrous oxide, a powerful greenhouse gas.
  4. The runoff from excess nitrogen is causing giant dead zones in our oceans.
  5. Artificial nitrogen sets up a vicious cycle that depletes to the soil's ability to store carbon and nitrogen.
  6. Edible plants raised on artificial nitrogen taste like complete crap.
And to lighten the mood--or not--here's a picture I took of a crab spider's catch on some common milkweed.


Greggo said...

And yet the price of food continues to climb. Crap!

Donna@Gardens Eye View said...

and that great food if you don't grow it costs more and I pay it but it is wrong...I know all the reasons why it is more and they are wrong...we need to start helping the organic farmers...great post

My butterflies love my butterfly bush free garden.

Benjamin Vogt said...

I do have three huge bfly bushes, but the insects sure don't prefer them. My grocery bills seem high--but it seems like a long road to independence.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I use organic fertilizers like "Coop Poop" from time to time, and more often apply compost, but I have found that plants will grow in decent soil with no fertilizing at all.

I have a couple butterfly bushes, but also, lots of other plants the butterflies and caterpillars like. I haven't seen any caterpillars yet this spring, though.