The other day I discovered this advice sent by DC’s Extension Service to a local weatherman for posting to
his blog. First we are told to respond to the dandelion "invasion" by applying a broadleaf herbicide once in May. Then…
On the other hand, areas with
massive populations of dandelions need to be tackled now to reduce the
amount of seeds produced, and to reduce the competition of the
dandelions with the turfgrass. This action will require a second spring
application of broadleaf herbicides later in the spring/early summer,
if other weeds are present.
Most of the broadleaf herbicides are
formulations of 2,4‑D, MCPP, dicamba, MCPA, 2,4‑DP or some combination
of these products. Read the labels on these products carefully, paying
close attention to limits to the number of applications permitted per
year, timing of mowing in relation to the timing of application,
environmental conditions, and avoidance of runoff into bodies of water.
No surprise, coming from the Extension Service that directed me NOT to "promote the environmental agenda" when I wrote gardening fact sheets for them – a directive I pretty much ignored. Naturally I left comments on the blog suggesting a different attitude toward synthetic herbicides and dandelions in particular, and so did DC Urban Gardener prez Ed Bruske. (After all, he wrote about the good eating and good drinking that can be gleaned from dandelions for Martha Stewart Living.)
The little dust-up on the blog made me wonder if this kind of chemical warfare is still being recommended by other Extension Services, and I was pleased to find the very enlightened approach taken by Maryland’s. That link goes beyond mere organic weed control to suggest weed tolerance by the homeowner – imagine! And the other mention of dandelions on their website is this one about how to grow a low-maintenance meadow. No wonder that’s the Extension Service that local Master Gardeners direct the public to for environmentally responsible advice, even the ones in Virginia (where they’re still steeped in pre-Rachel Carson thinking). DC’s Extension Service doesn’t even have a website, thank goodness.
Further evidence that the tide is turning is this decidedly pro-dandelion and anti-toxin piece by Joel Lerner in the Washington Post. Then of course Pesticides.org has lots to say about dandelions, as does the eco-friendly company Gardens Alive.
CANADA OUT-GREENS US ONCE AGAIN
It’s funny that this pro-herbicide advice appeared in DC the same week we’re seeing the amazing news out of Canada that Home Depot and other big stores are taking crap like 2,4-D off the shelves! Voluntarily, according to this story, but surely just ahead of the government order to do just that. Incredibly, the cosmetic use of synthetic pest control products is being banned by communities and now provinces across the great nation of Canada, which has "reached a tipping point on pesticides and will eventually become a nation of organic gardeners, at least for residential areas."
Well, maybe under the next U.S. president we’ll all wake up, smell the dandelions, and choose not to nuke ’em after all.
Photo by Nutmeg66.