Permaculture Literacy – HHA

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  • Oakley Biesanz says:

    Hi Bret,
    I am really enjoying your series, but I am deeply concerned about your full endorsement of using ladybugs to control aphids, and of earthworms as an indicator of soil health.
    CONCERN 1: Purchasing Ladybugs often Spreads Invasive NonNative Species, as well as Pathogens to Native Ladybugs:
    I agree that creating habitat for native predators, including ladybugs, is very important. However, I have concerns about people ordering ladybugs on Amazon or many other places without the species named, based on your comments. Perhaps consider changing the way you talk about it to really focus on creating that habitat for ladybugs in order to do good, and cause no harm? People could easily accidentally order online the non-native Harmonia axyridis, or Asian lady beetle, spreading an invasive species. Furthermore, ordering ladybugs from another site can introduce parasites, fungal infections, and bacteria that are harmful to the local existing native ladybug species already present.
    CONCERN 2: There are many invasive worm species that are destroying forest ecology, especially in the Northern part of the United States. As an example, in my home state, Minnesota, there are NOT ANY terrestrial earthworms that are native to this state, and the invasive species are drastically deteriorating our ecosystems. Please see the DNR and University of MN website link below for current research and reports. There are other terrestrial invertebrates that are native and beneficial.
    HERE ARE SOME LINKS about the ladybug trade and invasive earthworms just as a start for your further research:
    HOPE THIS HELPS you refine your message to do even more good, and possibly even learn some more about these complex issues! THANKS for listening to my concerns!

    • Bret James says:

      Hey Oakley!

      Thanks for the detailed response!

      One, the devil is in the details, and as with any topic there seems to be an infinite amount to learn.

      Regarding the lady bugs, I would have to agree that attracting them naturally is always best! What you point out about the potential for ecosystem destruction related to collection is actually true for almost anything.

      For example, regular garden amendments such as rock phosphate, might have environmental repercussions from any stage of the process!

      That is why it’s always best to aim for onsite resources.

      Regarding the earthworms, that treads into a different discussion of the idea of native versus invasive.

      Humans hold this idea that environments are static when in fact they are dynamic.

      My guess is that if it’s true that there were no earthworms in MN that there would eventually be some regardless of human introduction.

      Even desserts become forests and forest become deserts again in geologic time, over and over again.

      Humans just expedite the spread of ecosystems – wether it’s good or bad is up for debate.

      For example, here in the CA mountains people have coined the Blackberry as invasive, and yes it it altering local ecology.

      But ultimately it is filling a niche that was open – building soil, providing habitat, providing food for many animals. Roles that were not filled to begin with.

      I think evaluating the ultimate ecosystem shift regarding the earthworms in MN would be interesting – since so many forest ecosystems thrive with earthworms, why isn’t the ecosystem there?

      When we look to the destruction cased by pine Beatles we begin to see that they actually might be doing the forest a favor.

      For example, evidence appears to show that the pine trees left behind are actually the trees that are more resilient to to a warming climate!

      Here are some links to more on Native vs Invasive:

  • Tom Dollman says:

    Very informative and in depth lesson. Thank you Brett 🙂

  • Danielle Hall says:

    Found that so fascinating! The added video was great, i had no idea! This does leave me with questions, i have always been that person that destroys that mushroom growing randomly out of fear my young children with pick and eat it, as i have no idea which ones are poisonous? then i go on to think about what other random thing grow that can be potential harmful and what do we do with them? and how do we know whats harmful & harmless when it comes to random growth? Also regarding harmful insects/bugs that do more bad than good, what do we do about them? Is this something we discuss further on?
    very new too all of this.

    • Bret James says:

      Hey Danielle!

      Great questions – ultimately how you choose to manage the mushrooms is up to you. When Sequoia was younger and would eat random things we did remove all mushrooms and any questionable berry plants in the garden.

      Now that he is older (2.5) he understands never to eat or touch mushrooms. He even sees them and says “don’t touch mushrooms”. So now we don’t need to worry about removing them.

      Yes beneficial animals is talked about in Track 1, Module 6, Lesson 5!

  • Penni Cowham says:

    amazing just makes you want to have the best soil

  • Amanda Webb says:

    Something helpful here could be pop up vocabulary. The insect types, nutrients in the soil, etc. Some of those are terms I’m not familiar with and it could be helpful to visually see it on screen so I can jot them down.

  • Brian Moyer says:

    The more I learn about soil life ,the more intentional I am to farm in ways that help enhance soil life, not deplete it.


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