Friday, August 22, 2014
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

DHS musicians back from summer in Italy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
City to overhaul its sprinkler heads, other water-wasters

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

No easy task: History buffs still trying to save building

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Davis indecent-exposure suspect pleads no contest

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Not-guilty plea entered in Woodland homicide case

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Russian aid convoy reaches war-torn Luhansk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Putah Creek Council appoints new executive director

By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

Communitywide ice bucket challenge on Sunday

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Parents’ Night Out features Vacation Bible School

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Afternoon tours of city wetlands resume Sept. 6

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

 
Yolo County golf tournament enters fourth year

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Saylor will meet constituents at Peet’s

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Event will unveil mural celebrating food justice

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Prunes take center stage at last agri-tour of the summer

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

In need of food? Apply for CalFresh

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Wolk bill would require reporting of water system leaks

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Writing couple stops at Davis bookstore

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Explorit: Final Blast show returns for second year

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A5

Record drought saps California honey production

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
World travelers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Seniors set to stroll through Arboretum

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Weightlifters causing a racket

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Police are our friends, right?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Wage plan has a big flaw

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Bridging the digital divide with computational thinking

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

No support for militarization

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A better use for this vehicle

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

.

Sports

Watts likes what he’s seen in keen Aggie DB competition

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Watney and McIlroy struggle at start of The Barclays

By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B1

 
Light-hitting Cats fall

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

Giants win nightcap in Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Sports briefs: Big West soccer coaches have high hopes for UCD men

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

Yolo Mambo to play free show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘If I Stay’: Existential angst

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11

 
Davis Chinese Film Festival to kick off with 1994 favorite

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Rock Band campers perform at E Street Plaza

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Natsoulas to host mural conference

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

.

Business

Car Care: Teenagers not driving safe cars, study shows

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

 
Car Care: Feeling the summer heat? Your car battery is too

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Three-wheeled Elio gets closer to going on sale

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, August 22, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6