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Not sure if this belongs in gardening or Green Portland, but either way, I needed to get it out there.  So, after months of neglecting my yard and garden while I waited for the early signs of Spring growth and the surge to bond with the good earth, I finally broke down and started calling different landscape/yard maintenance workers.  Mainly, I would get referrals from friends, neighbors, or just randomly stop at each landscape truck that I saw around the neighborhood to get them over for an estimate.  What horrified me was not the quotes I was given for the amount of work involved, but rather, the fact that every single "landscaper" advised the use of pesticides and/or weed killer to transform my overgrown gnarliness into lush green toxicness.  They claim that Roundup is "just salt" and harmless to the soil. Well, after an extensive Google search last night, I now know differently.  It will kill not only the bad organisms, but all the good ones, too.  Especially my beloved earthworms, which come wiggling out in droves at night, reminding me what an important job they do to keep my soil aerated and healthy.  The soil where I plan to plant vegetables that will sustain me and my family.  The thought of Monsanto's glyphosphate leeching into our groundwater or wiping out an entire colony of earthworms left me feeling very sad and scared about the impact that this one act alone would have on our ecosystem.  I know, it's just one house, one garden. This stuff is used by all the golf courses and parks in our city. Would it truly make a huge difference if everyone stopped using it?  It just made me stop and really think about how little thought goes into what we consider "green" and the sacrifices we make for the sake of convenience.

One of the main reasons I moved here was precisely because it was green, and people seemed more evolved, or at least, aware.  Clearly this is a nice "feel good" label that we like to put on ourselves, and convince ourselves that we're doing our part.  I, for one, told every single landscaper that the job was off if they so much as spilled a drop of Roundup on my property.  

If anyone has had similar experiences, or knows of any truly "organic" weed control (yes, I've read about the vinegar/citrus/clove oil), I'd love to hear about it.
I guess I'll start pulling out the weeds, the old fashioned way, and I hope that the earthworms will thank me by tilling my soil for me...the old fashioned way, too!

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Replies to This Discussion

LuLu; First, my credentials; I have been in the landscape maintenance industry for 40 years, the last 30 spent at a senior living center as the head gardener, now as the master gardener. I am also an OSU extension Master Gardener.
So first off about Round up. It is not "just a salt". The "research based" information that I have seen through my years in horticulture indicates that glyphosphate, once it contacts soil changes chemicaly into what is considered a "harmless" chemical.
Please note my carefully worded sentence, thats the official OSU Master Gardener talking. In my personal opinion it is still a synthetic chemical that is being introduced into a natural environment. Having done my own research I have found information about glyphosphate that gives me pause for serious thought. I also have many years of personal experiance with glyphoshate without any serious problems other then spray drift. Bottom line for me is that I just dont know how safe glyphosphate really is and if given a choice would not use it.
And that really is the bottom line,choice, are landscapers given a choice? Using glyphoshate to control weeds is cheap and quick and gives the customer what they want, a weed free landscape at an affordable price. It they dont use it they lose customers to landscapers that do use it. And losing customers means going out of business.
Through the years I have had to balance the complaints about weeds and expenses with using the least glyphosphate possible to control weeds. It has been a battle and at times I have felt like a piece of sliced meat being fought over by dogs.
So keep the faith, it's not just you against Monsanto. And every yard and garden that goes natural and organic does indeed make a differance.
Just remember a couple of things; weeds, insects, plant disease are all part of nature. Accept them and accept that your yard will not be perfect. Also, keep in mind that vinegar/citrus/clove oil and other home remadies are also chemicals being intoduced into your environment. Try boiling hot water for weeds! Try squishing bugs with your fingers, ick! And choose disease resistant plants.
Here's a link to my garden blog, scroll down to March 2, "Rose disease and Insect pests"
Hank I do appreciate your very informed response. I'm glad you agree in principle, certainly puts my conscience at ease that I made the right choice and understand that landscapers need to make a living, but just wish the customers were given more information before arbitrarily putting chemicals into their soil that could take years to recover the delicate balance which as you say, is all part of nature.

I want to look into taking the OSU master gardener program at some point, and also want to get my backyard certified as a wildlife habitat. Monsanto can keep their genetically modified seeds and glyphosphate, no thanks. Funny, my mom also mentioned boiling hot water and the landscapers just laughed at her.

Hey, how's your worms coming along? Vermiculture is another interest I want to develop, will check out your blog, thanks for the link.

Here's a great site I found for more info on keeping our Gardens Alive !!
Here's two great sites to visit for gardening information.
And this attachment is what I used for the Sustainablity Fair last Thursday.
I sort of gave up on the battle of the weeds and for the most part I just pull them up or use the boiling water once in a while. Years ago, not really being much of an educated consumer and before the greener/healthier living bug bit me, I had in past purchased jugs of Roundup and used it on weeds that sprouted in sidewalk cracks. Bam...weeds gone. It is effective and easy and that is why people use it. But like you, once I started reading up on pesticides and other nasties in our environment, I got sort of worries and stopped using pesticides/herbicides pretty much altogether. It is a hard balance. I grow my veggies up in pots on my deck because they get less slugs and other things up there, but they don't get as big as the ones down in the yard. Slugs are easier to battle with things like copper strips, but weeds...well, I guess you either accept em, or kill em, or go someplace in the middle. Hank gives an excellent thoughtful reply. I hope others weigh in as well. I am sure Portland must offer organic gardening classes...I will do a search (Hank will laugh at me for suggesting we get online to learn how to garden, but that is how I find things, LOL!)


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