Well I haven’t been around on the blog much recently, for which apologies. There just seems to be too many other things on the go at the moment. Thanks to all those people who listened to me as I read from my book Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time the other night in London and thanks very much to Helen Babbs of Look Both Ways for inviting me down to participate in such a lovely event. I’ve never read from my book before so it was a strange feeling to have people actually become quiet and listen. Apparently it was like a bed time reading – I only hope no one dropped off.
After I got back from London Garden News dropped on my door mat with a story headlined “‘It’s common sense to use pesticides’ says TV’s Toby”. Assuming that Toby was organic and ethical this came as quite a shock to me – especially as Toby used to write for Organic Gardening magazine (he dropped his regular column when he became head of Gardeners World).
I don’t want to pre-judge what Toby will do in the programme because quotes can often be miss-represented out of context but I think it is fundamentally wrong to suggest that using chemicals is a common sense approach – on so many levels. Not only is it harder to garden once you get into the cycle of using chemicals – because chemicals invariably kill off predators as well as pests and because pests become resistant to chemicals over a relatively small period of time – they are produced using a material that is running out – oil – at a high price to the environment in terms of CO2 emissions.
My hope is that Toby will explain these complex issues on TV, as he seems to be promising in his interviews. Common science – in comparison to common sense – is telling us that conventional agricultural and horticultural products are part of the problem and that we would all be better off learning how to sustain are gardens without resort to too many things bought from shops made from oil. Throughout the last century we have been taking – to steal a quote from presidential hopeful John McCain – a holiday from history. Our industrial and agricultural systems (along with the billions of people that rely on it) are all maintained because we have taken a credit note from the past (oil) and spent it today. This cannot go on. We have to find alternative ways of sustaining ourselves without using chemical pesticides and without spoiling our environment. Long term there is no other option.