Give me spots on my apples and holes in my sweet potato vine



Remember the Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” about paving paradise and putting up a parking lot? Every organic gardener’s favorite line is surely “Give me spots on my apples. But leave me the birds and the bees. Please!”

So, when people notice the insect holes in the sweet potato vine in a pot next to my front door, that line is my best defense. Along with “Really? I never noticed,” which is kinda true.

The truth is I see the holes but don’t mind them. I’m a gardener trying to attract birds, so insect holes are a good thing.  And even the humble sweet potato vine can contribute.


  1. So well said! I’m with you. This reminds me to write an email of complaint to the park service people who manage the 98-acre park next to my house. Every fall they mow down two big beautiful wildflower meadows in mid-Sept while there are tons of lovely yellow flowers blooming (swamp daisies, I think). In the process, they also mow down all the seeds from monarda and other wildflowers that could feed the birds for months. In my imagination, it’s all about people having big noisy mowers that they want to play with, so they look for something “dead” to remove. Harumph.

  2. My chickens make a mess of the hosta surrounding their coop area. It seems to be their favorite foraging material, behind beetles and slugs. When asked by friends why I “allow” them to eat the hosta I answer them with, “Well, if it weren’t the chickens it would be the slugs, and slug eggs aren’t nearly as tasty as theirs!”
    Count me in for a no-spray yard. I’d rather see holes in leaves than a landscape bare of wildlife (and my silly birds).

  3. Susan,

    A hearty “Hear, hear!” I LOVE “Big Yellow Taxi”…think it’s time to dig out all my old Joni Mitchell albums (remember those?)…..

    Thanks for sharing,

  4. Thank you! This same ‘reframing’ also applies to produce. So much food is thrown away because they don’t resemble visually flawless, PhotoShopped vegetables & fruits. As a farmer, it’s a big challenge to sell to people who are trained to ‘shop with their eyes’ without realizing that cosmetic blemishes are quickly remedied with a paring knife.

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