By Lauren Pelayo
Image credit: Iberdrola
With the ever growing shifts of climate change we’re witnessing more and more signals that our planet must be treated differently. It’s becoming incredibly obvious that cutting corners and using materials that are a quick fix just aren’t viable options anymore; and really never were. If you’re a gardener and you’ve taken to using synthetic gardening materials to eliminate pests or control weeds then this post is for you. Taking the initiative to maintain your land is an honorable task and by choosing natural alternatives you’re elevating your practice and helping the planet in ways that will leave a lasting impact for years to come.
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The decision to use pesticides should not be done lightly or last minute; in fact one should conduct thorough research and consider hiring a professional to make sure things are done properly. It’s important to remember that you share your land with surrounding pollinators and animals. In some cases it’s best to leave the land, especially if you’re shooting for a purely aesthetic approach. It’s all about balance, and letting parts of your land grow naturally is a way to honor that concept. Pesticides can do immeasurable damage to not only your properties soil/crops but to the water you drink as well. Most pesticides are incredibly potent and require proper dilution so it’s important not to purchase more than you require because dumping remaining fluids in your drains can compromise your’s as well as surrounding water. Handling pesticides requires careful preparation; it’s important to protect your skin and not inhale these toxic products. The clothes you wear must be stored carefully and if you have pets or little ones it’s especially important to protect them from cross contamination.
Having given you a lot of negatives about pesticides it’s important to acknowledge that gardeners as well as farmers are aiming to have successful harvests and need the help of pesticides to accomplish that. We recommend PureSpray Green as a replacement for common pesticides. Our product has “the lowest level of toxicity of any competitive spray oil product on the market. It’s been scientifically proven to work as well as, or better than, synthetic chemical pesticides on a variety of crops including: tomatoes, grapes, apples, and pears, plums and citrus fruit to name a few. It’s also compatible with virtually all water types and hardness and is virtually odorless as well as readily biodegradable. This organic all-in-one solution works on flowers, fruits, vegetables, shrubs and trees. It can be sprayed indoors and out and PureSpray Green is OK to use right up until the day of harvest.”
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Weeds are some of those pesky growers that seem to have a mind and energy of their own. It’s a wonder why vegetables, flowers and plants don’t grow just as strongly as their cousins do? Honestly, one must admire weeds for pushing through the toughest conditions but their invasive energy can become a nuisance too many homeowners; those looking to save time have turned to herbicides. These products were created to target weeds but unfortunately their presence is felt everywhere. When rain water falls these chemicals bleed into water streams polluting ponds, lakes and killing the fish and wildlife that live in them. We’re not to be left out of the bunch who can be severely harmed by the chemicals in these products. According to The National Library of Medicine from the J Natl Cancer Inst. “This review of the literature shows reasonable evidence suggesting that occupational exposure to phenoxy herbicides results in increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.” It’s important to remember that what effects surrounding ecosystems also has a lasting impact on our health as well. A safe alternative to conventional herbicides is Phydura Weed Killer which “is a non-synthetic, non-selective herbicide made from clove oil and other natural ingredients.” Another option according to country living is “Use nontoxic mulch to suppress weeds, weed by hand regularly to keep weeds under control, and consider replacing your lawn with leafy groundcovers that aren't as susceptible to weeds as grass is.”
This product is honestly mind blowing as it’s hard to understand why a person looking to care for their land would choose such materials. If you take into account what tires are made of as well as the hazardous materials they typically pick up from being driven on the road it would be sure to raise red flags. One ironic selling point for using tire mulch according to rubbermulch.com is that it’s “environmentally friendly.” The reasoning behind this claim is that it creates less waste sent to landfills and it replaces tree wood. Those may be admirable attempts at lowering the carbon footprint but the damage this material does to the environment when used as mulch outweighs these benefits. According to Katy Willis at Angi “Rubber from tires contain many chemicals and heavy metals, even if it’s undergone extensive cleaning and preparation processes.” She also says, “Heavy metals are linked to serious health conditions in humans and animals, including cancers and neurological conditions. And the contamination isn't localized, either. Yes, your soil can suffer, but the heavy metals eventually also leech into the groundwater, too, causing widespread contamination.” If you’re looking to use your land to grow crops then rubber mulch should be avoided entirely as the chemicals from these materials can contaminate crops and affect the health of those eating them. Tire mulch has also been known to release toxic vapors into the air which can cause health issues in surrounding wildlife, ecosystems and people especially young children who are still developing.
A healthy alternative to rubber mulch is traditional wood mulch, compost or even ground covering plants.
Image Credit: Iowa State University Extension Outreach
One of the common questions on every gardeners mind is "what can I use to keep those annoying pests away?" Many are aiming to repel mosquitos, ants, centipedes, cockroaches, fleas, crickets and many others. The downside to synthetic bug repellents like the rest is the detrimental effects they have on our bodies. The chemical sodium laurel sulfate, which is an active ingredient, (especially in common brands like Cutter) has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. What causes harm to us also does harm to your land and surrounding wildlife so we'd like to give you some healthy alternatives.
Garlic Gard is a pungent herb that not only repels insects but also critters ranging from deer to rabbit to iguanas. The smell of this product softens after a few minutes and is hidden from humans but remains noticeable to pests for weeks after application, making it an easy alternative.
Another fantastic choice is Cedarwood Oil. This repellent is an essential oil derived from cedar tree's; it's capable of both repelling and eliminating pesky insects. Cedarwood oil is FDA safe and approved to be used on edible crops once harvested. Replacing those harsh synthetic bug repellents with Cedarwood oil means keeping in alignment with the natural flow of nature. You're able to simultaneously push away just what you need to create a healthy harvest/gardening experience without compromising your health and the health of surrounding ecosystems.
Image Credit: The Guardian
Now that you've got these safe alternatives under your belt you can head into your gardening practices confidently. Whether you're gardening as a hobby or farming on a larger scale these alternatives will help bring you a healthy harvest and stay in line with the earths precious balance. Every gardener making the switch to natural alternatives brings us one step closer to reducing climate change and saving our planet.