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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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Entries in glysophate (2)

Friday
Jun242011

Beware of Gardening Tabloid Headlines!

I have just read a controversial article posted to the online news source Huffington Post, an organization that is often prone to creating emotion-stirring, undeserving headlines out of un-newsworthy occurrences. The title of the article  reads:- Roundup: Birth Defects Caused by World's Top Selling Weedkiller, Scientists Say".

Disconcertingly, upon closer examination of the entire article, a reader can confirm the inciting nature of the headline. It is worrisome that too many will digest it as an indisputable fact about Roundup when that product still remains under scientific scrutiny.

To the extent that the Huffington Post headline reflects the opinion of one group of scientists, the news article is accurate. However, since that opinion has not yet been corroborated by other scientists who follow more stringent research protocol, that article is not truthful. In fact, it will only stir up the emotions of dedicated and respected environmentalists that have already come to the as-yet scientifically uncorroborated conclusion that glysophates, even if properly administered, are toxic to living things.

By reading the entire article, one learns that the scientists’ statement reflects the finding of a flawed study. Respected organizations that monitor the possible toxic effects on humans of suspected substances report that an unflawed and proper investigation of such an allegation is problematic because testing for toxicity on humans is risky. Nevertheless, their opinion on this matter still requires further research - research based on accepted, rigorous scientific protocol. Surprisingly, that organization will not issue a definitive statement on the subject for another four years!!!

As responsible gardeners, we are constantly on the lookout for safe ways to clear aggressive, unwelcome vegetation from our gardens and farms. Unfortunately, many of the healthier alternatives are not efficient. Time and speed are important attributes of any herbicidal action because both gardeners and farmers, especially those living in colder climate, are in a perpetual race with nature to clear, plant, and harvest within a restricted time frame.

Those of us who grow decorative plants or food understand that anything that can kill vegetation probably will kill other living matter as well, and that includes humans. Up until now, that has been our unscientific gut feeling. We also recognize that it is doubtful there can ever be such a thing as an efficient and safe - for - living - things herbicide. However, since we are unable to stop gardening for pleasure and we must grow nourishment in the most efficient manner possible, rightly or wrongly, we are destined, for the time being, to tempt fate by continuing to use herbicides.

Imagine the upheaval that will occur in the gardening and agricultural industries if the scientific protocol-respecting research reveals that glysophates are indeed harmful to all living things, no matter how carefully they are used. What will we do then? It is also very worrisome that scientific bodies are only beginning to publicly tackle the subject of glysophate's toxicity now that Monsanto's patent for this product has recently expired. What does that tell us about a respected, international community of scientists who are forced to depend upon big business to sponsor their research?

Read the entire Huffington Post article here.

Sunday
Feb142010

Smothering Aegopodium, an Unwelcome Perennial

A ritual takes place in many shaded gardens around the world. It begins with homeowners frustrated that nothing beautiful will grow in their sunless gardens. Inquiries and suggestions ultimately lead them to plant Aegopodium. This groundcover, aka Goutweed, grows in the shade and thrives wherever most other plants cannot survive. To the unsuspecting homeowner, it is an attractive perennial with eye-catching leaves. One variety has foliage, beautifully variegated in green and white, which illuminates shady spots. However, to the seasoned gardener, the plant is a monster.

Several years will pass and the Aegopodium will have spread far beyond its intended location. Homeowners will attempt to lift it out without success. They will bury it with more soil, but it will manage to percolate upwards. After a few years of trying to get rid of it, frustrated homeowners will look for advice, once again.

Removing Aegopodium requires strategy because it cannot be eliminated by lifting. Its roots are too stubborn and too pervasive to respond to manual or mechanical solutions. Glysophate, a systemic herbicide sold under several brand names such as Round Up or Wipe Out, is needed to kill this plant. Alternatively, it may be smothered by covering the plant with an industrial strength semi-permeable membrane called geotextile.This sheeting is then camouflaged with anywhere from one to two feet of earth, or mulch. Earth is more effective because it is heavy enough to keep the membrane in place. The operative word here is industrial strength; consumer grade membrane is not strong enough to fight Agepodium. 

To replace the about-to-be smothered groundcover, select appropriate shade loving plants and insert their root balls beneath the geotextile. Simply slash at the geotex with a very sharp blade to expose the earth below, dig a hole for the plant, insert plant, back-fill with earth, replace the geotex and camouflage with earth. The semi permeable textile will allow water to seep through to nourish the roots growing beneath but will not permit plants, targeted for smothering, to grow up through it. If the homeowner needs a replacement ground cover, consider planting Epimedium, which is availble in both green and variegated cultivars. While it does spread, the growth is controllable. Experiment by planting it in the earth above the geotex.

The landscapers that work in my neighborhood have been attacking Aegopodium for over thirty years. They have decided that smothering with a strong membrane is the only safe solution. In years past, they might have considered using herbicide. Today that is no longer an option. Some of them have lost a colleague to fatal diseases that have been linked to exposure to toxic substances. Now, they refuse to touch even those products, like Glysophate, that are advertised as safe. Local governments, that have already banished other toxic herbicides, are slowly introducing legislation to banish this one, as well. I suppose that landscapers already know what we are about to learn.