Most people have a love/hate relationship with their lawns. If we just have to have one, grass – as opposed to a yard full of food crops or ornamental beauties – just has be fed and cared for to look good and this is where the ‘hate’ thing comes into play. I’ll admit that sometimes I don’t mind taking the hour it takes to walk behind my little mower to cut the grass but there are a ton of other things I would rather do.
The pesticides and fertilizers required to give the lawn that lush green look is something else that goes against my desire to live ‘chemical-free’, as if that bit of ‘nirvana’ can ever be achieved.
In a home garden environment the pesticides can be non-existent if you follow good companion planting techniques. But on lawns, short of allowing anything to grow there that wants to, if we want that wide expanse of lush green carpet without dandelions and crabgrass and grubs etc then we reach for the chemical sprays.
According to Beyond Pesticides, a national coalition against the misuse of pesticides, herbicides or weed killers account for the highest percentage of use in landscapes and gardens. Collectively Americans put down more than 90 million pounds of herbicides on their lawns and gardens each year, and suburban lawns and gardens are blanketed with more pounds per acre of pesticides on average than agricultural land. And of course, pesticides used in food and ornamental gardens can be hazardous as well, both in the environment and as residues on food.
Consider these other facts compiled by Beyond Pesticides in their Lawn Pesticide Facts and Figures Factsheet. Many commonly used lawn pesticides are probable or possible carcinogens and have been linked to liver and kidney damage, childhood asthma, and disruption of the endocrine system. Children are most at risk; one study showed that home and garden pesticide use can increase the risk of childhood leukemia almost seven times. Dogs exposed to herbicide-treated lawns and gardens have double the risk of lymphoma. Birds, aquatic life, and bees are harmed by many commonly used lawn pesticides.
And it's not just the "active ingredients" in pesticides and herbicides that are cause for concern. The composition of the "inert ingredients" that form the bulk of the product don't need to be disclosed on the label, but are often quite toxic, sometimes even more so than the active ingredient.
To read more about the dangers that lawn and garden pesticides and herbicides can pose to people, pets, and the environment, go to Beyond Pesticides.
I’ve been wanting some hanging plants but don’t have many suitable places to hang them. The house we moved into has aluminum siding and I’m a little concerned about puncturing the siding for fear of water getting behind the siding and damaging the wood support.
I’m still open to suggestions on how to make this work but in the meantime I’m collecting suitable candidates for hanging.
The latest is 'Basket of Fire', the first ornamental pepper that has been bred especially for hanging baskets. Growing about 10 inches tall and 14-18 inches wide, this pepper develops cascading lower branches as well as continuing to fill in with new growth at the top, making it perfect for hanging baskets and other containers.
Bred by Floranova, Ltd., this new variety produces a profusion of 2 inch long, 1/4 ounce, conical, tapered fruits -- often more than 300 peppers per plant! The peppers change from cream to orange and finally to red at maturity in a colorful show and the small leaves allow the brightly-hued fruits to take center stage. You can use these spicy hot peppers in the kitchen as well.
Like all peppers, 'Basket of Fire' needs full sun and warm temperatures to thrive. It sets fruits in ninety days from transplanting.
For more information on 'Basket of Fire' pepper, go to: National Garden Bureau.