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A Conversation
on Prevention

Advocacy, Cosmetic Pesticides, Guest blogger, Provincial Election, April 3rd, 2013

Faster than the speed of light

Carol Pope is the editor of a dozen gardening books including the national bestsellers The Book of Kale and The Zero-Mile Diet. Also editor of Gardenwise magazine for a decade, she writes regularly about organic gardening in BC. Carol offers us simple and easy tips for pesticide-free gardening.

All creatures love snacking in the garden (without fear of being poisoned by pesticides)

Faster than the speed of light – or so it seems – weeds spread through my garden. In my own backyard I combat these villians on a daily basis – thistle, lady’s thumb, oxeye daisy and more, ripping out these roughshodders by the roots.

This keeps my compost bin full and my fitness levels up. I’ve adapted a “step, pull, step, pull” strategy, with pruners in my back pocket to help slow down those that are too robust to be wrestled from the ground. Meanwhile, the weeds decompose into a nourishing food for my edible garden. I add organic grass clippings to the compost, or even use them as a weed-suppressing mulch around my berry bushes, along with shredded autumn leaves. Lawn clippings are a fantastic resource and can be a big part of the circle of life within a garden – that is, of course, assuming they are organic and not drenched in poisonous pesticides. Here are a few more tips:

 Shallow watering sources and herb gardens attract the “good” bugs that eat the “bad” bugs

If you think you need to spray a porous driveway or walkway to keep weeds down, just spritz a titch of vinegar on a sunny day – safe for kids, dogs and you!

For small hard-to-pull weeds, particularly those in gravel walkways or driveways, there is a wonderful alternative to dumping harmful pesticides, chemical herbicides and overkill cleaning products into our precious earth — vinegar! Did you know that it is an effective earth-friendly herbicide?

Having used white distilled vinegar as an herbicide with great success, I am happy to have discovered this wonderful collection of tips on using vinegar in the garden.

 1. Kill weeds simply by pouring it full strength over them. This works especially well in crevices and cracks of walkways and driveways.

2. Discourage cats from getting into the kids’ sandbox by pouring vinegar into the sand.

3. Stop ants from congregating by pouring white distilled vinegar on the area.

4. Neutralize garden lime by adding white distilled vinegar to the area.

5. Kill slugs by spraying them with a mixture of 1 part water and 1 part white distilled vinegar.

6. To catch moths use a mixture of 2 parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part molasses. Place mixture in tin can and hang in a tree.

7. Keep rabbits from eating your plants. Put cotton balls soaked in white distilled vinegar in a 35mm film container. Poke a hole in the top and place in the garden.

8. Clean out stains and white mineral crusts in clay, glazed and plastic pots by soaking them for an hour or longer in a sink filled with a solution of half water and half vinegar.

9. Get rid of rust on tools and spigots by soaking the items overnight or for several days in undiluted vinegar.

10. Increase the acidity of soil by adding vinegar to your watering can.

11. Give acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and gardenias a little help by watering them with a white distilled vinegar solution now and again. A cup of white distilled vinegar to a gallon of tap water is a good mixture.

Cosmetic pesticides aren’t necessary to keep my garden growing well – in fact, I have been gardening for decades and never used them. Gardens need to be safe for all creatures – for our children, pets, birds, bees and all beneficial insects – and they also should be safe for the growing of food. I’m calling on all parties in British Columbia to support strong cosmetic pesticide legislation. You can too by sending an email to all parties. Let’s keep our lawns and gardens healthy and cosmetic pesticide free.

For more pesticide-free gardening tips visit Carol Pope’s blog or follow her on Twitter @carolapope. The views are Ms. Pope’s and do not necessarily represent the views of the Society.