Monday, December 11, 2006

Now this might convince you to give up pesticides!

A post on Garden Rant talks about a recent study linking pesticide use to smaller penises and low testosterone levels in male alligators and abnormal ovaries in female alligators. A comment on the post links to a study from the U of Missouri suggesting that sperm problems in human males could be related to agricultural chemicals. Here's a summary of the findings:
Semen quality was equally high in Minneapolis and New York, and slightly lower in Los Angeles. However, men in mid-Missouri had counts and quality that were significantly lower than men from any of the urban centers.
Scary stuff.

My garden has been pesticide-free for several years now, except for slug bait (and I use mostly iron phosphate now), and I haven't had any insect problems that a good dose of Safter soap couldn't fix. No, my plants don't look perfect, but they grow well.

God's take on lawns

Two posts in 10 minutes? A new record! But I just found a great piece on GardenWeb which is worth reposting here. Think about this when it's time to whip out the lawn mower next spring:

Imagine the conversation The Creator might have had with St. Francis on the subject of lawns:

God: Hey St. Francis, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there in the Midwest? What happened to the dandelions, violets, thistle and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect "no maintenance" garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But all I see are these green rectangles.

St. Francis: It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers "weeds" and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

God: Grass? But it's so boring. It's not colorful. It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees, only grubs and sod worms. It's temperamental with temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

St. Francis: Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. The begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

God: The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

St. Francis: Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it... sometimes twice a week.

God: They cut it? Do they then bail it like hay?

St. Francis: Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

God: They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

St. Francis: No Sir. Just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

God: Now let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

St. Francis: Yes, Sir.

God: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

St. Francis: You are not going to believe this Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

God: What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. Plus, as they rot, the leaves form compost to enhance the soil. It's a natural circle of life.

St. Francis: You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

God: No. What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter and to keep the soil moist and loose?

St. Francis: After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. The haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

God: And where do they get this mulch?

St. Francis: They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

God: Enough. I don't want to think about this anymore. Sister Catherine, you're in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

Sister Catherine: "Dumb and Dumber", Lord. It's a real stupid movie about.....

God: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Armchair tomato gardening

OK tomato gardeners, it may be cold and grey outside, but we can still indulge our passion for love apples. Ronni Lundy's In Praise of Tomatoes: Tasty Recipes, Garden Secrets, Legends & Lore offers an excellent opportunity to daydream about last year's tomato patch while learning something that may help us with next year's crop. If you're looking for a guide to growing tomatoes, look elsewhere. But if you'd like to learn about the history of this popular garden vegetable, get some new--and creative--recipes, and admire some gorgeous full-color illustrations, this is the book for you. It includes a useful chart of tomato varieties that gardeners will find helpful, but otherwise the emphasis here is not how to grow tomatoes, but why to grow them. After drooling over recipes for green tomato ketchup, red tomato and lemon jam, and spicy red tomato cake, I'm ready to start planning for next year's crop.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

How to Root Softwood Cuttings - Plant Propagation Forum - GardenWeb

I just stumbled across a great posting on GardenWeb that explains how to root softwood cuttings. It includes very basic instructions and pictures -- perfect for beginners. Take a look: Easy - How to Root Softwood Cuttings - Plant Propagation Forum - GardenWeb