dandelion_flowers_2-t2Dear Neighbours,

As our Spring slowly arrives, daily bringing a new sign that indeed the sun will encourage the teeny green shoots up out of the months long frozen ground I am filled with renewed awe at the resilience  of nature, even after decades of gardening. Seeing “our” heron flying  over Blakeney when the river was still quite frozen and everything was snow covered was a thrill: She is now busily working this bit of the river along with the beavers, several muskrats , dozens of other birds and the more unseen riverside citizens like the amphibians.

This what I want to write about. Our quiet, little, mostly unseen co-inhabitants of the riverside, field and garden. It started when I popped into the hardware store last week to buy some flower seeds. I was really saddened to see a HUGE display of Roundup , a whole skid full of it waiting to be purchased plus the enormous “home gardener” section of it in its locked cabinet complete in packages with sprayers: SPRAYERS! What in the name of heaven would anyone need a sprayer for this pesticide sold only for use on “toxic weeds”? There is no toxic weed I can think of that that would require a gardener to spray it. Then
I saw the image of a danelion on the package. Gosh: I sure live in a dream. I thought we had gotten over the “perfect lawn” years ago. I grow a “lawn” complete with tons of crazy little plants growing in it. I have found when its mowed it looks just like a lawn. Its fine to walk on and sit on and play with the dog and grandchildren.

There is an overwhelming amount of information available on the dangers of Roundup. Monsanto is being sued all over the world for understating its dangers and recently it has been linked in a recent UN study,( by real live scientists in real live peer reviewed studies ) to causing cancer. That is old news to anyone who is interested in organic gardening, but this information should really stop anyone who thinks a dandelion is worth killing with a sprayer full of Roundup. You can source tons of info on the dangers of Roundup on the internet . I won’t take up space here listing the most well respected links. I am a
regular citizen with no authority on the matter but the sources I read make me feel that til someone clearly refutes the issue of the dangers of this herbicide I am only too happy to putter in my bursting-with-life garden at peace with all its unpopular botanical nuisances.

Please consider that dandelions are one of the first pollen sources for the bees. We all really need to be helping the bees anyway we can ( that’s another pesticide story for another day). Also dandelions, including their leaves, root and flower, are a famous medicinal plant. Ironically the new leaves of the plant are the kind of thing you can eat to inhibit cancer!

The other things that are particularly sensitive to Roundup are pregnant women and amphibians… then the list goes on. Monsanto would have you believe that the components of Round up are broken down quickly and are all innocuous on their own. Well this is the point of contention. The action in Roundup is derived from a synthetic hormone that mimics estrogen. And guess what is being investigated as a promoter cancer in mammals? Hormones ie: estrogen. It is like second hand smoke: when you use herbicides they don’t just remain on your property. They end up in our ground water and our rivers.

There are rarely any bull frogs singing along our river in the last couple of summers, whereas in the past their singing would keep you awake at night: it was a tremendous cacophony of riverside partying! More and more farms nearby are turning to Roundup ready crops. Roundup continues to build up in the environment. And since my eye-opening visit to the garden section of our local hardware store, I realize there must be a huge number of home gardeners still using the stuff as well. One
little story worth repeating is from a dear old friend living in the  Glebe. When I was talking to him about my unease with home herbicide  use, he told me that for his tiny city back garden he used to kill “weeds” in his pathway with a solution of Roundup, diluted 40 times with water: applied with a cotton bud and it still killed the plants dead! He since has stopped doing this but it is a scary thought.

I hope I can get some of you to look at the information out there on the dangers of this seemingly innocuous herbicide and perhaps try to make friends with the plants on your property. Perfect lawns to me are like a bad toupee..like: you arent fooling anyone with that perfect lawn. Same with weed-free driveways and paths…grow some creeping thyme instead! Leave me the spots on my apples. ( our apples!) cheers and happy spring to you,

Chandler Swain, Blakeney