20 July, 2009

Garden Update: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


Our white datura are beginning to blossom. We grew these from seed started back in Spring. I have about a dozen plants scattered throughout the yard and the ones in the sunniest location (on the south west corner of the house) are doing the best. Each plant has between six and eight buds.

And the white cone flowers in the moon garden are gorgeous. I love them so much that I just asked a neighbor down the street--a total stranger--if I can have some of her purple cone flowers when she divides them; they're completely taking over her corner flower bed and are choking out everything else. Later, I realized I must have looked a tad crazy, accosting her in her front yard and asking if she'll let me dig in her garden. But she did say yes. It's one way to meet my neighbors, I guess.

This picture I just took a few minutes ago, when I brought Maggie outside for "last call." I know it's dark, and a bit fuzzy, but this is what greets me when I step outside at night. It's one of my favorite stretches. The day lilies are an almost-neon shade of yellow.


I killed the grass on the west side of the house about a month and a half ago to prep for a massive flower bed and shrub border. Although I swore I was not going to use any chemicals on the lawn--organic all the way, baby!--the crabgrass and other weeds were so bad here, with such deep root systems, that I bought a bottle of Roundup Grass and Weed Kill and sprayed the area down. It didn't take much, and within three weeks it was all dry and crusty. But the grass doesn't pull out as easily as I thought it would, and I've been meaning to borrow my cousin's cultivator the next time I see him. But, you know, something else always comes up. I had to wait for a wind-free day and spray very close to the surface of the lawn, so I wouldn't get any overspray on the ninebark bushes or the river birch.


This is the result. My poor neighbors have had to look at this for weeks, and I've heard more than a few snide comments wafting in through the windows. (See how close the house is to the sidewalk? Do they not think I will hear them?) Several of the ones I've encountered outside ask, "What happened to your grass?" I thought the straight lines looked deliberate, but two or three thought it was a disease or something that attacked the lawn. Weird.

Anyway, this week I'll be doing something about the eyesore.

In case you're wondering, as I was, just what Roundup is, how it works, and how evil I was for using it, here's a little info I found out at How Stuff Works:

Glyphosphate-based herbicides all work on the same biochemical principle -- they inhibit a specific enzyme [EPSP synthase] that plants need in order to grow...Without that enzyme, plants are unable to produce other proteins essential to growth, so they yellow and die over the course of several days or weeks. A majority of plants use this same enzyme, so almost all plants succumb to Roundup...In the same way that many antibiotics gum up enzyme production to kill bacteria, glyphosphate gums up enzymes in plants to kill them...The question of safety is a hard one to answer because there is a lot of polarized and conflicting information. Here are a few things we can probably say with some certainty:
  • Given the amount of glyphosphate sprayed on the planet every day, it is probably safe to say that glyphosphate is not violently toxic to people or animals. People do not have the same enzymes in their cells that plants do, just like human cells and bacteria differ enough that antibiotics kill bacteria cells but not human cells.

  • On the other hand, most people react badly to glyphosphate (and other chemicals mixed with it) when ingested or applied to the skin, so you want to avoid any contact with the chemical.

  • Roundup will kill almost any plant, including aquatic plants, so you want to be sure to avoid spray drift onto other plants or into water. Any pesticide should be applied carefully.


Jean Martha said...

I would totally yell back "I can hear you!".

Joanne said...

I've already yelled out the window at people who don't clean up after their dogs. I'm so becoming the "get off my lawn" old lady.

Jennifer said...

We resorted to round up, too. I was so TIRED of dealing with our back lawn... weeding, and weeding again. I still want to get back to organic... but the roundup was needed for sanity's sake.

Debra said...

I guess I was lucky. After pulling weeds for a complete hour EVERY Sunday morning, I finally got rid of them. Not one weed is in my yard... after a year. When I moved in here last year, there were at least 50 different kinds of weeds growing in the yard.

My friend says it's my evil thoughts that killed em. lol Seriously, I had never had a yard before, and hated yard work. So, I decided to use it as a meditation time. Which worked until I seen a weed, then I'd think evil thoughts about it and the 20 around it. Not really good to think evil thoughts while meditating, ya know?

3 weeks ago I went out to do my weekly yard work and discovered no more weeds! Yay!

How rude of your neighbors. My lawn is the nicest on the street, and I hate it when I'm out mowing and they yell out 'you're trying too hard!' or 'you mow too much!' Yet their yard looks like crap.

PS, I got the house! So, I'll be doing my yardwork on my very own house in September!

Joanne said...

Debbie--Congratulations! (If y'all haven't seen Debbie's new house, wander on over to her new blog. The house is a beauty.)

Jennifer--Glad to know I'm not the only one who went over to the dark side. :-)