July is the month we continue weeding, fertilizing roses and other annuals. We are literally enjoying the fruits of our labor and grateful for the frequent rains. Being at mid-season, there is not much to plant other than pumpkins seeds.
So this month, let us take a look at our obsession with green lawns and perfect gardens. According to Bill Chameides, former dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, we dump over 3,000,000 tons of inorganic fertilizer and 30,000 tons of pesticides on residential lawns and gardens every year. These synthetic chemicals are not only killing bees, aquatic animals and domestic animals, it’s killing us. We carry these poisons back in the house on our feet and paws; contaminating our living space. The runoff in to local water supplies means it’s in our drinking water right now. The problem is so simple to solve, you can begin right away. Stop using them.
It is really that simple. Just stop! There are so many alternatives available that there is no reason to keep poisoning the planet. If you have a landscape service, ask them what they are using. If they won’t go green, find someone else. If they want to charge you extra to use non-toxic products, find someone else. The cost of going organic will save you not cost you. The ingredients for organic products are pennies on the dollar compared to synthetic chemicals.
“Out of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides; 19 have studies that point toward carcinogens, 13 are linked to birth defects, 21 with reproductive effects, 15 with neurotoxicity, 26 with liver or kidney damage, 27 are sensitizers and 11 have the potential to disrupt the endocrine (hormonal) system.” Quoted from www.beyondpesticides.org
I have worked in this industry for over 30 years. Back in 1997 an employer sent me to school to be certified as a spray tech and licensed to store the chemicals. I did complete the training, but refused the certificate because I learned enough to know I would never use them again. And so began my practice of sustainable gardening.
Changing your products doesn’t mean you give up a green lawn or beautiful garden. You can have both and help the planet at the same time.
Please send your gardening wisdom and questions to Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are asking about a particular disease or pest; please include a photo if possible.