Archive for April 25th, 2009


On Earth Day, April 22nd, a pesticide ban came into effect in Ontario. The province banned the sale or use of about 250 pesticides and ingredients, including 2,4-D and malathion, for cosmetic use. The action comes more than 40 years after Rachel Carson’s landmark Silent Spring was published. The book helped to bring about the ban of DDT in 1972 and marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. It also sparked one of the first corporate disinformation campaigns as the chemical industry sought to discredit Carson. The chemical industry is still at it. Dow AgroSciences is suing the government over a pesticide ban in Quebec. I picked up Silent Spring in the late 1970s and read the first 50 pages. I was so horrified, I never finished the book, and never used pesticides on my garden again.

Gardening organically isn’t complicated. I don’t even bother with organic cures. I don’t buy plants that are finicky and difficult to grow, unless looking for a challenge. If a plant fails to thrive in one location, I try it somewhere else. If it still struggles, I remove it and replace it with something sturdier. Garden centres are filled with interesting plants. There is always something new to try. I also use a ‘wait and see’ approach. Sometimes perennials that are attacked by insects one year will survive a skeleton stage and regrow the next year as lush plants, while the insects have moved on.

The pursuit of a perfect lawn baffles me. It’s nice to have a patch of ground for the kids to play on, but otherwise, why bother with grass? Ecologically speaking, lawns have little to offer the natural world. A planting of native flowers can both add to curb appeal and offer pollinators an important food source. If you want to do something different with your front lawn, check out Liz Primeau’s book, Front Yard Gardens: Growing More Than Grass. It is more of an idea book than a “how to” with lots of colourful pictures. Get inspired. Dig in. Make a difference.



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