Successful organic gardening is more demanding than
non-organic gardening because it requires a working knowledge
of the ways the total natural community interrelates with the
physical and chemical environment of the home garden. This is
the basic meaning of the term, ecosystems. The purpose of
rec.gardens.ecosystems is to provide a forum for the
discussion of gardening with the ecosystem of the home
The primary goal for moderating rec.gardens.ecosystems is to
prevent cross posting. The moderation system includes the use
of both human moderators and a robot moderator. The robot
moderator has the ability and has been given the authority to
reject articles that have been cross posted. Another advantage
is that it gives the human moderators the resources to
discourage inappropriate postings. The complete Moderation
Policy is cited in Appendix D.
Rec.gardens.ecosystems consists of a newsgroup and a FAQ. The
newsgroup portion is meant to serve as a forum for the free
discussion of the ways to tend the home garden in cooperation
with nature. The FAQ portion is meant to serve as a record and
companion reference for those discussions. Because the
ecosystem of one area is often so different from the ecosystem
of another and because organic answers tend to be so regional,
the content of the FAQ is based on discussions from the group
and from the existing knowledge and experience of the
volunteers who help maintain the FAQ. The FAQ format is
particularly well suited for answers from multiple sources.
The purpose of organic gardening is to protect that portion of
the environment contained within the boundaries of the garden.
The individual home gardener isn't going to heal the wounded
environment of the larger community by gardening in a special
way but that individual can work at protecting the environment
under his or her care.
Protecting the environment of the garden is important for
several reasons. One, it is of benefit to the environment of
the larger community and is just good citizenship. Two, it is
of benefit to the garden. Organic gardening will not
necessarily produce the biggest crop or the greatest number of
blossoms, now will it necessarily eliminate all of the every
day problems but in the long run, a healthy ecosystem will
produce a healthier and more problem resistant garden. Three,
it is of benefit to the home in terms of safety. Many of the
synthetic pesticides and herbicides toxic to pests and weeds
are also toxic to the inhabitants of the home. Anything that
can be done to reduce or to eliminate the presence of these
toxic materials around the home increases home safety.
There may be isolated situations in the garden in which the
use of non-organic materials or non-organic cultural practices
is appropriate. It is the policy of rec.gardens.ecosystems to
differentiate between the situational use of toxic materials
which may be appropriate and the routine use of toxic
materials which is clearly inappropriate in an organic
The ecosystem is the way the community of all of the living
things in a specific space interrelate with each other and
with the physical and chemical environment that they share.
"Common Sense Pest Control" by Olkowski, Daar, and
Olkowski describes the function of ecosystems as follows:
"Why is it helpful to understand a pest's place in the
local ecosystem (which may be your kitchen, basement or lawn)?
It is helpful because everything is connected to everything
else. Knowing what a pest feeds upon, what feeds on it and
what other conditions are favorable or unfavorable to its
survival reveals a multitude of strategies for influencing the
pest's presence or absence.
By contrast, traditional pest control has been severely
hampered by its narrow focus on the pest organism alone. If
the pest organism is all you consider, your only options are
to endure it or directly repel, remove or kill it. Traditional
pest control techniques fall into just those categories.
By taking an ecosystem perspective, you can usually find a
multitude of ways to affect the pest indirectly by modifying
or removing conditions that support it, or by creating
situations that encourage its natural controls. As you can
see, the target organism is at the center ,with the abiotic
and biotic components of the ecosystem surrounding it, the
human activities that maintain the ecosystem surrounding those
and the sociopolitical reality of the larger society as the
context in which all these systems occur.
The important fact to remember is this: Changing any one of
these components in a system affects all the other components
to some degree. That alone makes it plain that there must be
ways to achieve the objective of pest suppression besides
spraying with a poison. . . . "
Organic gardening can be defined as gardening with
environmentally friendly materials and environmentally
friendly cultural practices. Those materials considered as
"environmentally friendly" are, for the most part,
those materials approved for use and listed in the
International Certification Standards of the Organic Crop
Improvement Association. A copy of that Standard is cited in
Appendix A of this FAQ. Those practices that are considered as
"environmentally friendly" are those practices
traditionally associated with organic gardening and/or
Integrated Pest Management.
Integrated Pest Management or IPM is a variation of organic
gardening that emphasizes cultural practices and biological
controls for the control of garden pests and disease. The core
premiss is that the ecosystem is able to provide the necessary
pest control if the gardener will just do the basic cultural
practices supplemented with appropriate biological controls.
In the event that the ecosystem is not able to provide the
level of control needed, the gardener then employs those
materials normally associated with organic gardening. In the
event that the organic gardening materials are not able to
provide the control, the gardener then has the option of using
toxic pesticides but only as a last resort. The goal of IPM
is to use as little pesticide as possible to obtain a
realistic level of control. The option to use toxic materials
can always be declined.
IPM is the pest control method of choice by many commercial
growers. The USDA reports that approximately half of every
crop acre in the United States is under some form of IPM. The
national goal is 75% of the total crop acres by the year 2000.
It is a cost effective use of both environmentally friendly
and toxic pesticides.
The primary lesson to be learned from IPM is that pest control
should be targeted to a reasonable level of control using as
little control material as possible. The ability to accept a
level of control also requires the ability to accept a level
of pest and disease damage. It is simply not realistic to
insist on the total destruction of every pest or disease
organism in the garden.
Farmers growing organic crops had problems because there was
no universally accepted standard for organic farming. The
commercial standards adopted by the various national or state
agricultural departments varied. Crops labeled and marketed in
one jurisdiction as "organic" couldn't claim to be
"organic" in another. Further, there was no real
inspection program to support that there was compliance to any
A group of independent farmers growing organic crops formed
the Organic Crop Improvement Association. They got input from
many sources and started a certification program which
included an International Certification Standard as well as an
inspection program that has become the recognized standard
throughout the international community. Farmers pay the OCIA a
fee to have their land and their farming operations certified.
The International Certification Standard as well as a draft of
a "National List" actively being considered by the
USDA are cited as Appendix A.
The FAQ for rec.gardens.ecosystems attempts to answer the
"frequently asked questions" of home gardeners
following organic gardening techniques. It is intended as a
convenient and reliable source of basic information on the
every day issues of the home garden. It is updated and posted
on rec.gardens.ecosystems every two weeks.
The FAQ maintainers make a concerted effort to keep the
content of the FAQ current, relevant, and accurate. The
information in the FAQ can be used freely at one's won risk.
The FAQ maintainers can not be held responsible for any damage
caused by information in the FAQ.
The indexing system for this FAQ is like the indexing systems
used by libraries. All of the articles are divided by topics
into major sections with each section designated by letter and
indexed. The major sections are then further sub-divided into
more specific topics. The sub-divisions are designated by
number. This kind of indexing system makes it easier for the
reader to find material. It also make it easier for the FAQ
maintainers to update or add new material.
The International Certification Standard is the adopted
standard that is used for crops marketed as
"organic". It is the product of the Organic Crop
Growers Improvement Association and it is recognized by
regulatory agencies and trade associations the world over. It
is of particular value to the home gardener because it
provides an impartial list of those materials known to be
effective and documented as being "environmentally
friendly". The International Certification Standard has
no private agenda and it is based on solid data.
Most gardeners prefer to use materials or methods that are
environmentally friendly provided that those materials or
methods really work. The gardener who follows strict organic
gardening techniques usually has to put up with more pest or
disease damage. The gardener who uses nothing but compost or
manure as fertilizer doesn't always get the most vigorous
growth. Learning how to garden with nature and learning how to
get the most out of environmentally friendly materials and
methods also takes effort.
If the reader is interested primarily in working to protect
the ecosystem of the garden and is willing to make the extra
effort that usually goes with organic gardening, then posting
through rec.gardens.ecosystems is probably the most
appropriate. On the other hand, if the reader is not
particularly interested in the protection of the ecosystem and
just wants short term control of garden pests, the posting
should probably go through rec.gardens. Certainly, there is
overlap involving rec.gardens.ecosystems and rec.gardens,
but there is also overlap involving gardening, agricultural
and botanical newsgroups. It is mostly a question of emphasis.
Moderated groups function somewhat differently than
unmoderated groups. Rec.gardens.ecosystems is no exception to
that. This section discusses the specifics in the moderation
Articles submitted to rec.gardens.ecosystems are initially
processed by a computer program. The program handles the
technical sides of moderation. It also scans for articles that
are clearly inappropriate including articles containing
binaries, empty articles, cross posted articles, missing
subject lines, and redundant articles. Inappropriate articles
are automatically rejected by the program. Articles that
contain more than 50% quoted material, articles in HTML
format, and articles containing diacritical marks are
automatically forwarded to a human moderator.
The robot moderator has some minor artificial intelligence
(AI) programmed into it as well. This AI is used to filter out
junk mail and flames. The robot does not decide on these
articles but forwards them to a human moderator for approval.
Obviously, the robot misses some of that material and
occasionally hits upon a false alarm. Missed junk mail and
flames can cause irritation and false alarms can cause delays
in posting. If the robot moderator or bot misses too many junk
mail articles or flames, moderation can be shifted back to the
human moderators. A strict adherence to the netiquette
described in subsection A.05.* will
prevent most, but not all, false alarms.
When ever the robot moderator decides that a posted message
requires human moderation, the poster receives an
acknowledgment identifying the designated moderator; however,
receiving such an acknowledgment is dependent upon the
validity of the poster's address. If you change your e-mail
address to avoid spams, the mail sent by the robot moderator
will bounce and you won't know what happened to your post. See
A definite advantage to moderated groups is that they can
receive e-mail submissions. This makes it possible to use your
regular e-mail program to post. This portion of the FAQ, for
example, was written in Word Perfect using 10 point Courier to
make it easy to count the right number of characters per line,
checked using reveal code to take care of messy spacings,
checked with Spell Check to make it available for posting by
e-mail. The e-mail address for submitting posts is
Posts to unmoderated groups are automatically inserted into
the group at the author's particular newsserver. They are
forwarded from there to other nearby newsservers. The result
is that these submissions appear almost instantly at the
poster's site but take a while to reach other sites. Posts to
moderated groups are routed differently. The newsserver
establishes that the post is for a moderated group and
forwards it for moderation approval. After the post is
approved by either the robot moderator or the human moderator,
the message is posted to the newsserver used by the moderated
group. In our case, the newsserver at the University of North
Carolina. The message is distributed from there over Usenet to
your newsserver. The routing and the moderation process causes
If your article is approved by the robot moderator, the
approval is virtually instant. If it is directed to one of the
human moderators, it could take as long as a day for
moderation as moderators have a life apart from moderating
articles. The time it takes for an article to be routed
through Usenet varies from a couple of minutes to a couple of
If you want to establish the propagation delay by your
particular newsserver, look at the dateline of the header.
This is the date and time the article was posted to the group
in North Carolina which is in time zone GMT+4. If your
approved submissions take more than a day to reach your
assistance in speeding up distribution.
Several people are involved in the rec.gardens.ecosystems
project. Their project related activities may center around
the maintenance of the home page, the maintenance of the FAQ,
and/or the moderation process. Since they all have e-mail
addresses which may change from time to time and because there
are also new people becoming involved, the group has a contact
Mail to that address is
automatically forwarded to the human moderators for handling.
As noted in A.04.04, the Usenet
propagating process can cause delay in getting articles to the
group. Even though rec.gardens.ecosystems uses multiple
injection sites, this delay can still be more than 24 hours.
It is possible to inject articles into your site directly if
your ISP is willing to do this for you. If this is something
you wish to pursue,
email@example.com may be able
The moderators are volunteers who try to make
rec.gardens.ecosystems a friendly group with a high signal to
noise ratio. Every now and then, they reject articles because
they consider them in conflict with the standards set in the
group charter. The charter spells out the topics considered as
appropriate and the policies of moderation. The charter was
adopted by vote and can be viewed at
If you think that the moderators have made an incorrect or
improper decision, measure that decision by the charter. After
you have reviewed the charter and you still feel that the
moderator's decision is wrong, you are welcome to take this up
with the moderator or with
make sure that all of the moderators are aware of the
In a perfect world, moderators for rec.gardens.ecosystems
would have the following traits:
good intelligence with lots of common sense
a good, working knowledge of IPM, organic gardening and
the ecosystems of gardens
an ability to work well with people from every walk in life
the capacity to tolerate a certain amount of abuse
a sense of humor and the ability to see things in their
some knowledge of the working of Usenet, HTML, and UNIX shell
In a real world, such traits are rare in the single person but
the current moderator group could use some expansion. Those
who would like to become a moderator read the charter as it
spells out additional details regarding procedures. Contact
The current document addresses some of the topics concerning
the moderation of rec.gardens.ecosystems. The complete
moderation policy is included in our FAQ. Denis McKeon at
http://www.swcp.com/~dmckeon/mod-faq.html maintains a separate
FAQ dedicated to the moderation of newsgroups.
Newsgroups like rec.gardens.ecosystems provide a forum for all
kinds of people with all kinds of backgrounds and
orientations. These differences can lead to misunderstandings.
Netiquette, or good on-line manners, are unofficial guidelines
that help avoid or minimize misunderstandings and help make
life on-line more pleasant. This section is about some aspects
This is the basis of netiquette and the reason why hitting the
"send" button when you are angry isn't a good idea. As a rule
of thumb, it is better to be on the safe side and avoid strong
wording. This may not convey the feelings of the moment but at
least it helps to being heard. Also flames and spams are not
good manners and are not welcomed on rec.gardens.ecosystems.
English is the Lingua Fracta of the Usenet. It is the most
common second language in the world. Many of those using
English as their second language are likely to make silly
grammatical errors along with misspellings and typos. If you
are annoyed by the English of these second language speakers,
ask yourself how well you would do in their native language.
Also, bear in mind that all of us make mistakes and not a few
of us have yet to master typing.
Obedience to the rules of English spelling and grammar make
posts more understandable but especially to those attempting
to deal with English as a second language. Misspelled words or
grammatical errors make translations all the more difficult.
Every now and then you might see a post stating something that
you consider stupid or simply wrong. You may be even tempted
to post for the purpose of exposing the author's stupidity or
ignorance of the facts. Keep in mind that the author is also a
person. If you see wrong information and you want to reply,
you'll do a better job by simply explaining why that
information isn't right. This avoids hitting your bozo button
and the bozo button of others as well.
Rec.gardens.ecosystems has an official policy of not accepting
flames; however, they can slip through the moderation
mechanisms. If this happens, the moderators may eat their
heart out but they have the resource to switch to full
moderation to prevent an escalation. Should you happen to see
or receive a flame, it is best to simply ignore it or to try
to settle the difference via e-mail.
There was a time when sending large files was effective as a
spam revenge. Spammers now fake their header lines and avoid
the mailbombing. The mailbombs simply go the faked address
where they bounce back to the original source. In essence
traveling twice, having no effect aside from really wasting
It is often hoped that the use of an address like
firstname.lastname@example.org will reduce the amount of
received junk mail. It usually does but at great expense. The
junk mail arrives at the invalid address, it then bounces back
to the original source which can be another invalid address,
and it bounces again. Even when postmasters stop the endless
bouncing, the junk mail has traveled at least twice over the
net wasting a lot of bandwidth in the process.
Also if you use a despammed address, the robot moderator will
not be able to reach you.
Shouting is the written equivalent of raising one's voice. One
form of shouting is writing in capitals. Another form is the
excessive use of exclamation points. Just as in polite
society, raising one's voice or shouting is often considered
Those who write spam messages often write in capitals or use
lots of exclamation points to draw attention to their message
and to make their offer appear bold and exciting. The use of
all capitals and lots of exclamation points, particularly in
the subject lines, are clues of spamming and the robot
moderator shifts the post to human moderation which only
Most of us have ego problems, some more than others, and they
can get in the way of our communication. In extreme cases, a
person may try to get his or her message posted in a number of
newsgroups regardless of suitability. Some persons might even
use "four-letter words" in the subject line just trying to
draw attention. The robot moderator screens out cross-posted
articles and refers articles containing offensive language to
the human moderators. The larger issue is knowing how to deal
with those things that tend to get in the way of our
Efforts spent on drawing attention to oneself or gaining fans
would be better spent in thinking through what we really want
to say. Its O.K. to admit that we don't know everything or
that we are often wrong. Its also O.K. to disagree. Its just a
better thing to disagree with respect.
Some people prefer to read text in textmode which can only
handle an 80 character line. It's best to keep the line length
to about 72 characters to allow for the '> ' at the start of
quoted material and for a little slack. These relatively short
lines create relatively long paragraphs which tend to look
awkward. Work at making paragraphs look proportioned.
It's also a good habit, when responding to a post, to include
the relevant portions of the original text that you are
addressing. Include enough quoted material to give your post
context and meaning but be selective for greater clarity and
to save bandwidth. Messages containing more than 50% quoted
material are forwarded to a human moderator automatically.
It helps to identify quoted material and to clarify context by
using the traditional [snip] showing the location of the cut.
If you use a signature that is appended to your posts
automatically, please make sure that it is less than five
lines and does not contain commercial references.
Rec.gardens.ecosystems is intended as a group to discuss the
ecosystems of home gardens and the outgrowth of groups is
social interaction. It is this social interaction that gives
each group its own personality. Groups can become too social
causing a loss of focus or purpose. They can also become too
content centered causing the group to feel cold and lifeless.
Every group member shares a certain responsibility in
maintaining the right balance. It comes down to knowing what
kind of social interchange between group members should be
posted publicly through the group or sent privately through
e-mail. The rule of thumb is that if the message is totally
social, it should probably go e-mail but there's nothing wrong
with a few jibes or chuckles being included in a group post if
the context is on-topic.
Needless to say personal flames don't belong in a group. If
you find someone's remarks or manner offensive and you feel
the need to say something, write a friendly and private note
by e-mail explaining your views. It is moderation policy to
trust in the ability of the group members to resolve their own
differences. If you are not able to work things out after you
have explained your views and problems continue, notify
As soon as moderators notice an offensive post, it is
moderation policy to send a private e-mail to the author and
to request a more civil tone. If the problem continues, all
messages submitted by that author are shifted to human
moderation and become subject to rejection.