Our toxic gardens

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I was struck by an article in the May 10 edition of the New York Times, in which the author, Diane Lewis, describes the growing dangers and consequences of the myriad of toxic chemicals we apply to our gardens, and especially our lawns. And just for the record, Lewis isn’t some well-intentioned hippie chick trying to get us all to “go green.” She is a physician, and the founder of the Great Healthy Yard Project.

The evidence is growing that these chemicals, which we don’t even need to apply, are entering our groundwater –  and therefore our drinking water –  and messing with our endocrine systems. It’s the cumulative effect that scientists are focusing on now. Endocrine disrupters have been linked to cancers and infertility, among other things. And bottled water isn’t any safer, because it, too, comes from groundwater.

But the chemical marketing is relentless and, unfortunately successful. The Roundup commercial equating the eradication of dandelions from a driveway to the manly defense of home and family is absurd, but the dudes are buying it. Glyphosate, the chemical in Roundup, is one of the most widely-used chemicals in American homes today.

The article in the Times quotes the US Fish and Wildlife Service as saying that “homeowners use up to 10 times more chemicals than farmers do.” And we don’t need to. Simply growing clover in your lawn fixes nitrogen and makes it greener. Letting the lawn grow a bit longer before mowing it and leaving the clippings to nourish the turf are also effective. And as for finicky plants like hybrid tea roses or fruits such as apples that require spraying in order to perform, I am done with those.

This is a growing public health issue, and something we should be paying very close attention to.

 

 

 

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About dirtynailz

Writer for a daily newspaper, gardener, tree hugger, orchid-grower, photographer, animal lover, hiker, wilderness seeker. Proponent of clover in the lawn and a dog on the bed.
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11 Responses to Our toxic gardens

  1. Anubis Bard says:

    Here, here! Not to mention that dandelions and some pesticide free clover in your lawn is great for the spring pollinators, including our beleaguered honeybees.

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  2. Yes, we should be paying attention to this! How can we not understand that toxic chemicals harm us? It’s ridiculous. I’d rather have dandelions growing around my lawn than crap sprayed everywhere.

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    • dirtynailz says:

      I guess it’s going to take a paradigm shift in people’s perceptions of lawns. Or a really scary scientific study.

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      • Many homes in the US Southwest now use only indigenous plants in their yards. The green lawns went away when municipal tax and water-use incentives were put into place. Something similar could work in RI, and everywhere, for that matter.

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      • dirtynailz says:

        That would be so great, but people here have not evolved to that point, unfortunately.

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  3. Lee May says:

    You’d think more users would care that the harm extends to eradicating good weeds, like milkweed, which is a favorite of monarch butterflies.

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    • dirtynailz says:

      Don’t know about your neighbors but mine get all anxious if they even have CLOVER in their lawns, to say nothing of milkweed. The brainwashing has been so thoroughly successful, that I really don’t know how long it will take to counter it, or if it is even possible.

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  4. CJ Wright says:

    That roundup commercial ENRAGES me!! Not only is that guy a toxic threat, he’s incredibly lazy.

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  5. Diana Studer says:

    I’ve been reading that the RoundUp is of course also in the crops we harvest, and eat. It is used to wilt the unwanted green stuff before harvest. Deeply distressing to see standing dead brown fields, about to be harvested.

    PS might you update the link you use to comment. It goes to http://dirtynailz.wordpress.com/ but I keep digging till I find my way back to your active site

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