Put down the rake and refold your paper leaf bags because it is too early to clean up your garden!

Many property owners do not realize that beneficial insects and bees spend the winter sheltering in the debris left behind in the fall; the fallen leaves and leftover stalks provide a safe shelter for the insects we need to pollinate our gardens. When these creatures are disturbed too early, they die. I think we have enough death and destruction in the world without further decimating the insect population. Do you really want to be the Vladimir Putin of gardening?

Please do not clean up your gardens until the temperature has been 50 degrees day and night for a week. Please, or I may be forced to take away your rake. “In the past, we have asked one thing of our gardens: that they be pretty. Now they have to support life, sequester carbon, feed pollinators and manage water,” says University of Delaware entomologist Douglas W. Tallamy.

While I am on the subject: Please reduce the size of the archaic status symbol that surrounds your house, aka the lawn. Lawns are an environmental desert that does not support any insects or birds. We can start to save the world if we (1) “Leave the leaves” in the fall; (2) Plant native species; (3) Plant more oak trees; (4) Let our gardens sleep in the spring, and (5) Get rid of our lawns. (And drop something heavy on the aforementioned Putin.)

Barbara Dee
South Portland

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