Have you tried forest bathing?

By Quentin Stocum

I could have easily covered my derriere and said that I put a test in last month’s article. But no, I must fess up that I made a boo-boo. But I wasn’t called out on it which means that no one caught my error or that no one reads my column. I’ll lean towards that no one caught my error.

Dill, I wrote has tiny white flowers, but actually the flowers are yellow. I hang my head in shame, but wait! The herb people apparently didn’t catch it either.

Another good use of dill is to plant it among your tomato plants. The tomato horn worm will pass up the tomato in favor of the dill.

Slowly progress was being made in the battle to help to prevent the decline of honey bees and other vital pollinators but to literally have the rug pulled out from underneath our feet. It was decided by the EPA that data collecting information regarding the pollinators decline would no long be done. The saying, There is something rotten in the state of Denmark, sure seems appropriate because this decision to suspend data collecting came weeks after a toxic pollinator killing pesticide sulfoxaflor, which had been banned, was reapproved for use.

The other day I was listening to a program on NPR. The program dealt with mosquitoes and what attracts them to a blood source. Humans, as we know, are a favorite target. It was just not one thing that makes a mosquito dive bomb a victim, but many different odors that we create.

The program went on to say that people who felt that mosquitoes weren’t drawn to them, were actually just as likely to be bitten as those who suffer when bitten. The only difference is for those who feel “unattractive” actually do not react to the bite. They do not develop a welt and the annoying itch.

Mosquitoes do have a natural predator, the dragonfly.

The dragonfly is a predator of other insects and will not pass up a meal. If it moves, it’s on the menu. A garden with a water feature such as a fish pond along with appropriate pond plants will be attractive to dragonflies. Dragonflies need water since eggs are laid on the water where they develop into aquatic larvae. The larvae are on the pond fishes menu.

The adults, during their hunt, will seek out areas that attract other insects, namely flowering plants such as black-eyed susans, milk weed, joe-pye weed in addition to pond plants .The plant draws insects; the insects will draw dragon flies.

Of course you do not need to be attracted to flowers to be a food source. If you fly, you die, is a dragon-fly’s motto.

In the past I’ve written how gardening is a stress releaser and good for one’s mental and physical well-being. I mentioned that there are components in the soil that are great for your body. But what can you do if you do not have the room for gardening or there are physical limitations on what you can actually do but would still like to get the benefits of what nature provides. There is a solution and all it costs is a little time and maybe gas money.

There is a concept called forest bathing. Popular in Japan, it has now a program that is spreading across the globe.

Forest bathing does not require anything, but regular every day clothing. All you are required to do is spend time in the forest for about two hours reaping the benefits of having your blood pressure lowered, stress alleviated and memory and concentration improved. You sleep better; you will have more energy and have a feel-good-about-yourself feeling.

But you say I just can’t go into a forest just anywhere. But I say, yes you can and it is free and safe.

Pennsylvania is home to some of the best state parks in the country. Many are less than an hour away from one’s home. Depending on the park there may be swimming, boating and hiking available. Take a picnic lunch, good book to read and good walking shoes and you are set to go.

My opinions on many things have evolved through the years. Things that I thought were beneficial to wildlife and things I did, I now find and feel I shouldn’t do that. I’m glad that I now know better.

In previous articles I have expressed my dislike for birdfeeders, now I am going to go one step further and say that hummingbird feeders should go the way of the Edsel. For those who have no idea what an Edsel is, google Edsel.

For some reason humans think they should help the creatures on this earth by feeding them. Animals and birds have fended for themselves longer than mankind has been around.

Feeders give the hummers an artificial source of food that is actually lacking in many of the birds nutritional needs. Sugar water does not contain the needed vitamins and minerals essential for the birds. It is like drinking sugar laced soft drinks. The only benefits from those drinks are an expanded belly. Hummers receive everything that they need from the nectar provided by plants. Many people do not realize that hummers also eat small insects and spiders, which are not found around a feeder.

I love to watch the hummers flit from flower to flower that I have spaced throughout the yard. By visiting flowers instead of a feeder, the hummer is also acting as a pollinator. There are so many more negatives regarding feeders, health issues being one.

Interesting article that I ran across is that the state of Maine is releasing a wasp that attacks and feeds on the emerald ash borer’s larvae, in order to stem the destruction of the ash trees in their state. Fingers crossed that it is successful venture.

Finally for the vegetable growers, late blight, killer of tomatoes, potatoes, bell peppers and eggplants, has been reported in Erie County. Remember cool, damp weather favors outbreaks of the blight.

When I mention cool, night time temperatures that go into the 60s along with damp conditions, is when problems occur. A fungicide spray meant for tomatoes will help prevent an outbreak.

The other disease killer, downy mildew that will take down cucurbits has worked its way up the eastern coast, just south and east of the state.

Please feel free to ask me questions. Your questions give me material about which to write. Email me at qstocum@gmail.com or if you see me out and about, stop and talk to me. I thank everyone who has contacted me.

Remember, it is easy to be green. Happy Gardening!

Quentin Stocum, Just Your Common Ordinary Gardener


Quentin Stocum, “just your common ordinary gardener,” can be reached at qstocum@gmail.com.


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