Herbicides Breed Superweeds
The rampant use of agricultural chemicals is creating superweeds that laugh in the face of industrial chemicals, according to researchers at the University of Sheffield in the UK. Scientists exploring the unnerving case of herbicide-resistant weeds, concluded that herbicides can no longer control the weeds that threaten crop productivity and food security because plants have evolved resistance.
Results of the study suggested that resistance is primarily driven by intensity of herbicide exposure. They also found that when farmers switched the chemicals or applied them cyclically, resistance still endured, despite those being common strategies for preventing the evolution of resistance.
The bottom line is that current strategies of weed control are not working. We need to be using other methods to keep weeds from threatening food supplies. Farmers and gardeners need to switch to weed-management strategies that rely less on herbicides, as it is inevitable that weeds will overcome even new chemical agents.
More information about the study can be found at https://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-agriculture/more-herbicides-used-weeds-stronger-they-become.html
Source: “The more herbicides used on weeds, the stronger weeds become,” by Melissa Breyer, Feb. 15, 2018. Treehugger.com.
Recipe for a Flowering Bee Lawn
What's a flowering bee lawn? I can hear your question over the ether.
A flowering lawn differs from a traditional lawn in having flowering plants as well as turf grasses. While traditional lawns are usually managed for uniform stands of only grass, flowering plants (often considered weeds) provide several benefits, including increased resilience to environmental pressures, natural diversity that benefits insects and other animals, and the beauty of the flowers themselves. Whether introduced or native, many weeds provide pollen, nectar, or both to foraging bees throughout the year.
These days bees need all the help they can get. Not only are they losing their habitat due to industrial agricultural practices, colony collapse disorder (most likely tied to pesticide use) is destroying the bee population at a rapid rate.
What's the sustainable answer? Develop a flowering a lawn. Don't pull those dandelions. Learn to live with Creeping Charlie. Sow wildflower seeds, and don't mow so often.
Plants You Should Always Grow
Companion plants are those that benefit each other, prevent pest problems, and use garden space efficiently. The benefits of planting sweet corn with beans have long been known to traditional gardeners. The beans attract beneficial insects that prey on corn, and bean vines climb up the corn stalks. But what should you plant with strawberries to make a more attractive bed? What do organic gardeners plant with spinach to repel bugs from eating the leafs? The experts at Rodale Press have the answers. Read on.
For more companion plants, check out The Farmers Almanac guide to companion plantings: http://www.almanac.com/content/companion-planting-chart-plant-list-10-top-vegetables
Hydrate Your Bees
Bees are in trouble, dying by the thousands from a plague associated with garden and agricultural chemicals. They need our help in order to survive and pollinate the plants we depend on for survival.
One way we can help is to make sure they have a healthy source of water to drink from. To help hydrate our little pollinators, set up a water feeder by filling a pie pan with marbles and then water. The marbles give the bees a spot to land so that they don’t drown when they come to drink. It costs pennies, and will be fun to watch and tend to your bees.
The Problem with Mason Jars
This is news I hated to hear. I use Mason jars for a slew of practical applications, in addition to canning garden vegetables in the fall. But, as with so many products in our industrial age, there are a couple of problems with Mason jars.
I just found out that the white undercoating on the lids contains bisphenol A, or BPA, a known hormone disruptor that leaches into food it comes into contact with. Lids with an alternative plastic coating are also problematic.
Secondly, the screw-top ring is made of tin-plated steel that is not water-resistent, and therefore prone to rust if it comes into contact with moisture or food.
Stainless steel lids aren’t the answer for canning because they do not pop to preserve food like the tin-planted rings do. Likewise, glass jars with bamboo lids are fine for transporting food or microwaving, but not for canning.
The good news is there are alternatives for canning.
Weck Jars—spelled WECK—have rubber sealing rings and glass lids held on by stainless steel clips.
Le Parfait Jars are similar to Weck, with lids held on with a metal hinge and clasp.
Quattro Stagioni Jars, made in Italy, are probably safe, as well, though not officially approved by the USDA.
So, to be safe, don’t use Mason jars for canning. Use alternatives, instead.
Source: “The problem with Mason jars,” by Katherine Martinko, Sept. 12, 2017. https://www.treehugger.com/green-home/problem-mason-jars.html
Do Not Feed Hummers Red Nectar
Spring has sprung in my hometown and with it the welcome arrival of hummingbirds. I love to see these high-energy creatures buzz around my garden. In order to keep them healthy and flying about, please don't feed them red dye nectar. It's harmful. Stores shouldn't sell it. It makes the birds so sick they pee red and can’t fly.
There is no need to dye the nectar red. Flower pollen is clear. The solution is easy: Attract hummers with a colorful red feeder and fill it with sugar water you make yourself.
Check the feeder every day. Cloudy nectar indicates bacteria, which is harmful. Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar. Black residue indicates mold, which is harmful. Discard nectar, clean the feeder and add fresh clear nectar. Add fresh nectar every two or three days.
Clear Sugar Water Nectar
• Boil 4 cups water for 3 minutes
• Stir in 1 cup pure granulated sugar
• Cool to room temperature
• Store remaining mix in fridge for 7 to 10 days.
- Do not substitute sugar. Do not add red nectar, red dye, honey or anything else.
- Boiling water not only kills most bacteria and viruses, it also removes other microorganisms and chemicals.
- If you choose to use non-boiled water, discard all nectar after 24 hours.
Recommended Feeder Schedule
• 70°-84°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 3 days
• 85°-87°F: Clean feeder and replace nectar every 2 days
• 88°F and up: Clean feeder and replace nectar every single day.