Garden Ethics

What river was poisoned to make these?
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Gardens provide among other things, time to think, and ethics come to mind in those long peaceful sessions of deadheading and weeding.  With the current realization that the ever-burgeoning human species is placing great stress on the planet, that what we buy may in the manufacturing process poison or pollute a river on the other side of a planet, or cause the slash-and-burn of a rainforest, or force desperate young people into near slave labor, thoughts turn to the ethics of the garden. 
Is the garden center going to let this plantlet fall and die?  Can I take it and give it a home--would that be stealing?
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Did pesticides play a big role in growing these for market?  Did the workers get respirators and gloves and Tyvek suits to spray these plants, or were they working unprotected? 
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Does buying cheap, overpriced Chinese-made garden do-dads...weaken the American economy?  Did children pulled from school make these, breathing in stone-dust that will shorten their lives?  
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Do our most beloved non native plants harm imperiled native species? Does an imperiled native gnat the size of a comma matter? 
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Is taking a cutting from a shopping center plant wrong? What about two cuttings?  Three?  Ten?  What about a whole plant?  A seed pod?  What about from a neighbor's garden?  What if the neighbor is an avid gardener?  What if the neighbor has a hired crew and never looks at the garden herself and can't tell the difference between a Petunia and a Pachypodium?
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Sometimes I think too much. 
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What ethical dilemmas have you encountered gardening? 


Comments

  1. All very good questions! There are more too: what about the water I'm spraying onto my too-thirsty plant(s)? Couldn't it be better used to raise food, or to supply those in water-poor parts of the world?

    In the case of cuttings or rescuing the plantlet: just ask. Especially if you have a couple of plants in your cart already, they'll most likely say "take it".

    Same for the neighbor gardener: ask! I know I'd be thrilled if one of my neighbors asked me for a cutting from one of my plants (mainly because most of them don't know that plants work that way). Then again they could just take as many cuttings as they wanted without asking... if they just make the cuts look like deer bites. :)

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    1. Good point, Alan. I've never been refused a cutting or seed pod when I asked. The reaction is often, "That's a seed pod?"

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  2. Ah, it's hard to avoid those concerns sometimes, isn't it? I focus on the ethical dilemmas that are within my most immediate span of control, like the use of pesticides and fungicides (I stick to the most innocuous "natural"forms available and use these as little as possible), fertilizers (ditto), and water usage. Still, I grow things that need more water and care in this environment than the plants that "should" be here. As to the larger labor and environmental issues, my response is usually limited to voting choices and the occasional angry letter.

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    1. Well as we all say, gardening is a process, the garden is never done. We'll all likely have local plant species eventually.

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  3. I learned recently that some seeds have been coated with neonicotinoids, pesticides that become systemic in the plants and kill insects like aphids, but have also been killing bees, and stay active in the soil for uptake by other plants. Bees seem to be in real trouble because of things people are doing. I am committed to gardening organically, what happens if I want to grow a certain vegetable but it is only available in treated seeds?

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    1. Yikes, I did not know about seeds being coated with pesticides. Thanks for the info--another thing to worry about. Life is getting so complicated, isn't it?

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  4. I know what you mean it's quite wasteful...especially said nursery and the big box stores. So many unnecessary products. We need to steer clear of those wasteful plants/products and buy organic. Too many times I've seen products trying to be sold as natural and friendly but it's a bunch of bull s*.
    On another note, I have 'stolen' a bulbil from the agave stem. Trust me, they trow them away. So many things go in the dump it's pathetic! There's my rant from me :)

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    1. Well it is a good rant! :) I think as gardeners get more experienced they abandon most "products" in favor of just adding compost and picking the right plants. I've gone down that road, anyway. It is the novice gardener that gets snagged by that junk.

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  5. Oh my gosh. I think you're playing the recording in my head. Now I super can't wait to meet you at Fling.

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  6. At my last job we had a customer how spent a lot of time in the nursery and display gardens, but did not spend a lot of money. We called him sticky fingers because we knew he was taking cuttings and putting them in his pocket. Finally he was caught red handed, and I told him we considered it stealing and that he was no longer welcome to shop with us. He offered a lame excuse/lie and left. We never saw him again.

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    1. That must have made for a bad day. Now I feel bad for yearning after that garden center parking lot Agave bulbil. :(

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  7. I endorse asking for what you want. I have never been denied, and I have often been sent home with more than I can use.

    As far as the ethics of consumption, my rationalization for spending money on plants and water is that I have no children. I figure I get to use as many resources in my life as all of my non-descendants put together would use had they been born :D

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  8. This is one of the perils of gardening: ample time to chew on heavy topics and an environment that makes it easy to veer toward hard-to-solve problems. I have no answers but I definitely relate. It can be a bit overwhelming, sometimes in the good way, sometimes in the bad.

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