If this week’s coverage of nasty bugs and invasive plants has made you want to just lock the door and stay inside, you may be in luck. Garden quarantines are an increasingly common way to deal with pest and disease infestations. Just consider:
The Plum Pox virus has moved into certain parts of Pennsylvania, prompting the USDA to go trampling around in backyards looking for signs of the pox, and leading the agency to ban the planting of any new trees in the Prunus genus (that includes cherries, plums, peaches, etc).
An infestation of the light brown apple moth has led to strict quarantines in much of the San Francisco Bay Area and all of Hawaii. In additions to restrictions on shipping nursery plants out of the area, individual gardeners within 1.5 miles of a moth sighting are forbidden from allowing anything from their garden–a flower, a piece of fruit–to leave their property.
The emerald ash borer quarantine prohibits the sale of some nursery trees, and restricts the transportation of firewood, in parts of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere.
Residents of Orem, Utah have been asked to stop growing fruits and vegetables for three years (!!) and to allow the spraying of two pesticides in their gardens to stop the spread of the Japanese beetle. Over half of Orem residents have signed up for the spraying. The pesticides are Merit (imidacloprid), which is rated as a Category II Moderately Hazardous chemical by the World Health Organization, and is highly toxic to bees, according to its own product label. The other chemical is Tempo, or cyfluthrin, which is also rated as "moderately hazardous" by the WHO and EPA, and which is also highly toxic to bees. Oh, and best of all, they both contaminate groundwater and kill invertebrates! Awesome. (And all this in spite of the USDA’s handbook on IPM approaches to Japanese beetle control.)
At least one blogger is on the job, reporting from the community meetings about the situation. And fortunately, inmates at the county jail are going to plant produce to replace what the residents have lost. So why is it that this annual pesticide treatment will make it unsafe to grow vegetables, but perfectly safe to play on the lawn, let pets frolic in the garden, etc? You people ask too many questions.
Thus concludes our This Week in Quarantines report. Looking for a quarantine in your area? The USDA’s probably got one just for you–check right here.
Now–are you STILL in the mood to get out and garden this weekend? Better get out there now, before the USDA draws a map around your garden.