Eradicate weeds and invasive plants, sure; but at what cost? – Anchorage Daily News


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Gardening FILE - In this, Feb. 24, 2019, file photo, containers of Roundup are displayed at a store in San Francisco. German pharmaceutical company Bayer announced Wednesday, June 24, 2020, it’s paying up to $10.9 billion to settle a lawsuit over subsidiary Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup, which has faced numerous lawsuits over claims it causes cancer. (AP Photo/Haven Daley, File) I received a bunch of emails this week about eradicating or controlling weeds. Clover has risen to the top of the list, replacing equisetum, which always disappears and people forget about it. Complaints about seeing hawkweed while on walks are up, as are questions about mass executions of butter and eggs, chickweed, German chamomile and cow vetch. I start to get concerned when Yardening becomes all about killing things instead of growing them. These concerns came in a week when Bayer, the company that ate Monsanto, announced it would “replace its glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential Lawn & Garden market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients beginning in 2023.” They are doing so because litigation is costing them too much. Thousands of plaintiffs assert they developed non-Hodgkins lymphoma due to Roundup, and while Bayer continues to say Roundup is safe, they have also settled tens of thousands of claims for more than $10 billion. Syngenta and Dow, who also now produce glyphosate formulas, have not made similar announcements, so the stuff will still be around. However, we should be elated by the news. The stuff is deleterious to soil microbes, at the very least, and being pulled from shelves because the company is dealing with so many lawsuits isn’t exactly a ringing safety endorsement. OK, I am glad glyphosate is partially going away. But why wait until 2023? They claim the delay is a result of regulatory and logistic constraints. Really? How much regulatory permission and what logistics does it take to voluntarily remove a product from sale? Here is simple logistics: Pull the stuff from the shelf this weekend. Bayer, deal with the logistics of return or disposal, but keep it away from customers. Don’t foist Roundup on us one more weekend. It is bad enough the stuff will continue to be used in agricultural situations, on food crops and on recreational fields and golf courses. I realize some homeowners can’t stand the idea of having clover, chickweed, May Day trees or what-have-you-weed in the yard. To some it is a liberty and “my-property, my-right” thing to be able to zap the hell out of weeds with a cancer-causing spray from a bottle. (It might have been when the product first came into use an we took everything Monsanto said about the product’s safety to be true.) As noted several times this season, yardeners have other options to kill weeds. There are organic herbicides that use clove and various salts. You can use steam and hot water. How about the heat of a flamer to wipe out a patch or an individual weed? Try a Borax spray (12 ounces in 3 gallons of water). Actually buy some horticultural strength vinegar. For big areas, consider smothering under a tarp? At the very least, don’t let your crop of weeds go to seed. Makes sense, doesn’t it? You can use your shop vac to get those fluffy ones. Pick flowers before weeds form seeds. And if you see invasives while off your property, you can tell the homeowner. If it is public land, call 1-877-invasiv (468-2748). Finally, I am going to say it: Alaskan yardeners and gardeners don’t use Roundup or any other form of glyphosate. We are not chemical users. Doing so is not gardening; It is like throwing sticks of dynamite into a lake and calling it fishing. Sure, you can catch a lot of fish, but at what cost? Don’t be lazy. And don’t be foolish. When a company pulls a product they make lots of money from because of lawsuits, there is a good reason for you to stop using it. Jeff’s Alaska garden calendar Fantastic master gardener plant sale: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, August 14 in the Alaska Botanical Garden Parking lot (4515 Campbell Airstrip Road). Great perennials, not available anywhere else, as well as house plants, classes and “Ask a Master Gardener” table. Harvest: I always ask what gardeners are waiting for? If a crop is ready, harvest it. Picnic in The Alaska Botanical Garden: Thursdays from 6 to 8 pm, August 19 and 25. $60 for adults, $30 for children includes an entree, side, dessert and beverage provided by South Restaurant. Sign up.
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