Friday, January 30, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Here’s what smart gardeners know

A dry creek bed is one of the ways the Missouri Botanical Gardens manages water-runoff properly. SHNS photo

SH13C020GARDENER March 4, 2013 -- A dry creek bed is one of the ways the Missouri Botanical Gardens manages water-runoff properly. (SHNS photo courtesy Joe Lamp'l)

By Joe Lamp’l

It happens all the time. I’ll get a call or an email from a group wanting me to give a presentation at an event. Eventually, it basically comes down to the same question: “What would you like me to talk about?” The response: “Well, our theme this year is XYZ.” And that’s how my rather extensive library of presentations has grown. I’ll often create a new presentation around what the group would like to hear. Such presentations are also the bases for many of the articles I write for this column, which is the case today.

The theme of this particular conference was “smart gardening.” Here are a few key aspects that I came up with.

Managing water
Earth is often referred to as the water planet, since so much of the surface is covered by it. Yet of all that water, only about 1 percent is readily available to us for our various needs — including watering lawns and gardens.

But considering all the water that’s out there, why, then, do we talk so much about water conservation? Because where water ends up after we use it, and how polluted it may become, are the real issues.

The water we conserve today doesn’t help the drought in Africa. But such conservation does help keep local sources of water from being depleted. Since much of the availability of water is weather-related, think of conservation as insurance for those times of drought in your area.

Using mulch
If every gardener and weekend warrior would mulch more, we’d use less water, cut down on the chemicals needed to fight pests and diseases, reduce the weed population, improve our soil and have a mulch healthier garden and a better-looking landscape. This is one truth that is as good as it sounds. Mulch derived from natural products, such as bark or wood, or leaves, grass clippings or straw, all help to do all the benefits mentioned here.

Overusing chemicals
For every action, there’s a reaction. I first heard that saying from my dad when I was a young boy. It’s true for everything. In the garden, as we blanket our plants and lawns with fertilizers and pesticides, although it may have the intended effect, it’s the unintended consequences that we just don’t seem to grasp.

When we apply a pesticide, for example, to kill an insect, do we think that a songbird might come along behind that poisoned pest and eat it? Millions of songbirds each year die because they ingested a pesticide-tainted insect. Do you know that many of the chemicals used to kill weeds are highly toxic to amphibious creatures? Even if you don’t spray near a water source, runoff and drift can deliver the same sad consequences.

One of my favorite quotes comes from John Muir: “Tug on anything in nature, and you find that it’s connected to the rest of the world.”

Organic vs. synthetic
As an organic gardener, I don’t use synthetic, manmade chemicals in my garden. Yet that doesn’t mean organic products should be used without care. Even the most naturally derived products, like pyrethrum, used as organic pesticides are nonselective, and will kill many creatures they come in contact with. Does that make them better choices?

In my garden, Mother Nature rules. Instead of using chemicals, I try and create an environment naturally, mainly through building healthy soil and planting in the right way, which allows her to do the work. She hasn’t let me down yet.

Comments

comments

Scripps Howard News Service

.

News

Suspected Ebola patient being treated at UCD Med Center

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
Town hall focuses on Coordinated Care Initiative

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

Schools give parents tools to help kids thrive

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Stanford University to get $50 million to produce vaccines

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Two more cases of measles in Northern California in children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Dartmouth bans hard liquor

By New York Times News Service | From Page: A2

 
Walkers head out three times weekly

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3Comments are off for this post

Free tax preparation service begins Monday

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

No bare bottoms, thanks to CommuniCare’s Diaper Drive

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Storyteller relies on nature as his subject on Saturday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Still time to purchase tickets for DHS Cabaret

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
All voices welcome at sing-along Wednesday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Great Chefs Program will feature Mulvaney

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
February science fun set at Explorit

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6 | Gallery

 
Take a photo tour of Cuba at Flyway Nights talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

See wigeons, curlews and meadowlarks at city wetlands

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
.

Forum

Time for bed … with Grandma

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Weigh quality of life, density

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Olive expert joins St. James event

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
We’re grateful for bingo proceeds

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
A ‘new deal’ for the WPA building

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Protect root zone to save trees

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Mustangs hold off UCD women

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD men set new school D-I era win record

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

UCD has another tough football schedule in 2015

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Gould’s influence felt mightily in recent Super Bowls

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

Sharks double up Ducks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Watney, Woods start slow at TPC Scottsdale

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Recall that first Aggie TV game, national title?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Song of the Sea’ is an enchanting fable

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
‘Artist’s Connection’ launches on DCTV

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Gross’ paintings highlight a slice of Northern California

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

February show at YoloArts’ Gallery 625 is ‘Food for Thought’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, January 30, 2015

By Creator | From Page: A9