The Monsters Among Us

He's holding a daisy, his maker cobbled him together from all these unnatural things - and nobody can predict when he's going to lose it and create much badness!
He’s holding a daisy, his maker cobbled him together from unnatural things – and nobody can predict when he’s going to lose it and create much badness!

Happy Halloween. I hope to really scare you.

Because there ARE monsters. There are things that are truly frightening in our world, and we gardeners are on the front lines, either fighting these forces of evil, or being victimized by them. OR, we stand by and do nothing… and to my mind that is really really scary.

What monsters you ask? Where? Oh come on, YOU KNOW. This is a thin, hackneyed little metaphor I’m using – you get it! The monsters I’m talking about are the substances and practices used in gardening that challenge and diminish the health of our planet. Gardeners of all stripes, from the pro to the homeowners who hobby-garden, are all assailed with propaganda from the Dr Frankensteins of the world to use the products they make in their labs and our gardens will be GLORIOUS! Our blossoms will be huge and too numerous to count, our food crops will be bountiful and robust – we will be the envy of the neighborhood with all those flowers and all that food! And it will be so EASY! Just attach a sprayer full of synthetic chemicals to your hose and spray away; you will be feeding your plants a yummy blue magic potion and in return they will give you more than you ever imagined! How convenient! You get all that wonder and those bragging rights for mere pennies.

(A scene from an upcoming horror film)

Neighbor: walking her pooch, stopping in front of the home of a sweet elderly woman, who is standing proudly  among her incredibly flowery and food-laden Rosalind Creasy-esque garden :  (Gasp!) “Rosie!, what a BEEE-YOUTIFUL garden! How do you DO it? You have such a green thumb, I’m so jealous!” (dog begins barking at sweet woman, suspiciously)

Gardener: “Why thank you Betty, yes, I just love nature. What can I say, being a gardener is so life-affirming and positive!” … she hides her blue-stained thumbs by shoving them deep into her floral gardening smock and fiddles with her pruners, flashing Betty a winning smile. “Here, have a few Dahlias for your house, and give my love to Ted and the girls!” She hands her neighbor a bouquet of blossoms – flowers full of neurotoxins and excitotoxins.

(side note – I think my little horror film has real potential! Think of it – cast a beloved elderly actress, say Betty White, as the neighborhood gardening lady who everyone admires for her floral and vegetal prowess, and slowly reveal that her garden is only that beautiful because not only does she use the run-of-the-mill poisons like the ones we can buy at most nurseries and big box stores, she is also developing her own MUTANT POISONS to create bigger flowers and more vegetables at the expense of her innocent neighbors who all start developing strange maladies and then start dropping like flies exposed to malathion! NOOOOOOOO!!!! *I run screaming from my computer at the horror of it all*)

Okay I’m back. Yes, there are monsters. The popular ones to hate at the moment are the neonicotinoids because of their deleterious effects on our bee populations, and I am very afraid of those, but I still hold to the classics. The monster I really love to hate has a recognizable name (starts with an R and ends with an UP – but don’t say it three times while you look in a mirror or you might find yourself doubled over with severe gastric distress). This beast is embraced by many. He is insidious. Even some who profess to be organic gardeners use this monster, because what is a little harm when you are going to be doing so much good by making an organic, sustainable piece of permaculture or whatever?

The monster is known by another, more ancient name.  Glyphosate. The enemy.

I get it, this is controversial, especially among landscape professionals. I KNOW – I used the monster for years. Before any garden installation, the weed abatement was built into the process – spray existing weedy growth, remove when kill is complete, water until new growth emerges, spray, kill, remove. I’d have a clean substrate to plant in, and the weeds that would emerge during the growing season would be far less able to choke out a baby garden. But at what cost?

– rats fed Monsanto’s maize (roundup ready) developed massive breast tumors in a lifetime feeding study recently published. (glyphosate has estrogenic properties) Most GMO corn is genetically modified specifically to be resistant to the repeated sprayings of glyphosate products and other herbicides.

– European studies show that people in 18 countries have glyphosate in their bodies.

– people living near Argentina’s vast plantations of genetically modified soy are seeing birth defects and rates of miscarriage 100 times the national average.

– inert ingredients in the most popular formulation of glyphosate (ahem) have been found to NOT be inert and to in fact amplify toxicity.

– glyphosate wreaks havoc on possibly the most important life form on the planet, the bacteria which colonize our guts. While mammals don’t have the pathways to take glyphosates directly into our systems, our gut bacteria DO, and it is postulated that this may be one of the causes for increased instances of Celiac’s Disease, food allergies, and other chronic diseases and syndromes.

That’s a BIG PRICE we are paying for convenience.

Now my process for addressing weeds is more labor intensive and yes, it costs more. It takes more time. It isn’t convenient. But my clients are happy that I am not using toxic substances that may negatively impact their health while landscaping their homes. I am not bringing a monster to a garden party.

The readership of Garden Rant is full of garden professionals. Have you committed to ending your association with glyphosate? Because I know we can commit to organic practices and the transition can be fairly smooth – but THIS is where it is hard – not using glyphosate when prepping your site for construction. We must commit to a more labor intensive process with careful weed abatement by manual cultivation before planting and hand-weeding after.

Home gardeners, have YOU committed to truly organic practices? Do you deal with your weeds with boiling water, vinegar, and a little extra muscle or do you simply spritz from a bottle of the Red-Nozzled Boogeyman?

Are YOU the person in the horror movie who goes running into the basement despite the protestations of everyone around you, saying “This is STUPID, there’s no MONSTER in here…”

We all know what happens to that person.


*I prefer not to embed links within my posts. Should you want to read a few pages on the points touched upon, please read:

Monsanto’s Glyphosate: Impacts on Human Health and Plant Life

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Ivette Soler


Fasten your seatbelts, Ranters, I hope you like riding rollercoasters! I’m Ivette Soler, a garden designer and writer who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. I have been designing since 1997, working primarily with the subtropical and succulent palette that thrives in my corner of the world. I started my blog, The Germinatrix, in 2004, and I have been enjoying a vibrant dialog with the online garden community ever sine. In 2011, Timber Press published my book “The Edible Front Yard“, in which I make the case for ridding ourselves of thirsty, dull front lawns in favor of beautiful, bountiful gardens that mix food with ornamentals. I am thrilled to be a part of this illustrious and opinionated group, and am looking forward to RANTING with all of you!

Let’s do a little speed-dating so you can get to know me better:

I am a Believer – I know that gardens and gardening can and will make this world a better place.

I am a Maximalist – I believe that more is more and more is better than less!

I am against Horticultural Xenophobia – If you believe that we must eliminate well-chosen exotics from our landscapes in favor of a natives-only palette, we might have words.

I am a Talker – I love to get into it! If you have anything you want to challenge me about, or if you want to dialog about anything I post, please comment away! My love of blogging is rooted in dialoging with a large number of passionate gardeners with diverse opinions. I will rant, and I expect you to RANT BACK

I cast a wide net – This is a big world, and I believe our gardens are more interesting when we open ourselves up to ideas other than those that come to us from the established gardening world. I am inspired by fine art, literature, product design, theatre, fashion … you get the picture. I will often bring in ideas from other areas of culture to our conversations about gardens and the way we garden.

I like exclamation points and sometimes … yes … ALL CAPS – I really talk like this!!!! I can’t help it!!!

I am eager to move the conversation about gardening and the place it has in our lives forward, so hop on, make sure you are strapped in tightly, and LET’S GO!


  1. Thank you SO MUCH for writing about this stuff. Since much of the devastation caused by insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is initially invisible to all but the most trained eyes, it needs to be said again and again and again. For the past several years I’ve been heartened by the appearance of a phenomenon in soybean fields, significant volunteer corn growth from the previous year’s crop that, true to Monsanto’s promise, is indeed “ready” to shrug off all the glyphosphate one might send its way. Ooops. Didn’t think that one through, did they? I’m heartened because farmers, a very practical lot, are also sticklers for order and take great pride in the look of their fields. I just know this worsening superweed corn growth has got to be a burr in their saddleblankets, so to speak. OK, fine, so I’m mixing ranchers and farmers – big whoops – we’re all in this together. Just stop using this crap. The world won’t end.

    • Joe Schmitt you haven’t been strangled in your sleep yet! So much the better for all of us! Thank you for commenting because I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU! Just stop using the stuff! We can find other ways!

  2. Thank you – it can’t be said enough – these things are bad for the earth. And yes, I know people who are “organic”, BUT when it comes to a noxious weed, they think it’s OK to use this horrible stuff. I’d rather live with some weeds and be vigilant about physically pulling, covering whatever. However the really scary part is the amount of this chemical being used by the non-organic home gardeners – it’s just part of their routine. I feel I need to speak up more – keep reminding us.

    • YES Susan thank you I remember your post about it! It always bears repeating that natural substances are ALSO TOXIC – Pyrethrins are a big example. AND bt, which made me so sick the first time I applied it – never, ever again. To be frank, I haven’t used vinegar in years, NOR boiling water, I just have cheap serrated kitchen knives I buy in 4 packs that I take with me while walking the garden and I pop out all the damn Stipa tennuissima that is STILL invading my yard 4 years after I banished it from my garden! I am always favoring food grade products (I never used the hardcore vinegar, just household 5%) but even those can have negative effects if used badly. Just like using a slat solution, vinegar can and will impact soil health. Sigh – always a price to be paid!

    • Don’t forget that pulling weeds sends nitrogen into the air, brings more weed seeds to the surface, depletes soil organic matter compared to no-till, and damages the microherd.

  3. I am so on board with you! Loving this post. It’s so important that they word gets out that gyyphosate and yes, I’ll say it, Round Up are HORRIBLE for the earth, for us, our kids and our pets! We are the only people on our street in suburbia not using these products, so disturbing! But I want to be the nice neighbor, so hopefully over a piece of peanut butter pie I can slowly convince people to please stop using this products. It blows my mind, how people with little kids 5 and under can spray this stuff all over their lawns and then their kids play in that same lawn with their bare hands. Not to mention their pets roll around in it. Just bad all around. I totally blame this stuff for the increase we see in allergies and like you mentioned…..celiacs disease.

    • Yes Laura, I think we need to be very thoughtful about how we are impacting our own health when we create an imbalance in our soil and environment. I believe the mystery surrounding the increasing numbers of auto-immune diseases may point right to our food and water supplies, which have been tainted. I wonder, if another country altered the genetics of our food and put ambiguous chemicals into our waterways, would we have such a lassez-faire attitude? I think not! Thanks so much for your comment, and your kind words. I’m glad you can feel good about your family rolling around in your healthy garden!

  4. Hrmmm – do you have citations for those claims? I spent 15 years in ag research (weed biocontrol, so no, I’m not some Monsanto mouth piece; about as far from it as possible), so I always give articles like this a bit of a side eye, especially when claims are made with no links to scientific articles. Yes, I looked at the links – I’m talking about peer-reviewed articles from respected scientific journals, not a site like Mercola.

    Because even if I agree with the main point of the article (really – biocontrol research is all about reducing pesticide use!), propaganda and fear mongering are bad strategies.

    And I expect SO much better from Garden Rant.

    • fully agree with Kelly B. above, and am a little disappointed with you, Ivette, for citing something from Mercola–the biggest quack of all time, IMO. And the rat tumor study was another large load of steer manure, see

      I am as down on round-up use as the next crunchy hippie, and am often distressed that it seems to be the cost for no-till farming, I feel that you hurt the cause by citing such horrible crap.

      There are good and valid studies, and just plain logical reasons, that should discourage homeowners from throwing round-up around–my neighbor killed several of my home-grafted-at-high-labor-and-money-investment tomato plants this year by spraying on a windy day. And glyphosate is supposed to bind strongly to soil, but it is found in streamwater ( etc., etc.

      You shouldn’t have to resort to bogus ‘science’ woo to support your writing.
      I am dissapoint!

      • Thanks for the links JW – very very appreciated! Yes, I am fully aware that I took a risk citing Mercola’s evidence against glyphosate – he is SO polarizing, but like I stated above, I think some of the connections he makes are potentially very interesting and would benefit from true scientific investigation. I am not the type of person that throws out EVERYTHING someone says just because a few things don’t line up – if that is our standard then who can really meet them? Mercola is a bit of a shill, but he has a viewpoint that I believe shouldn’t be so easily dismissed. AND – as a writer I was very attracted to the hysterical tone set forth in that article and thought it would well serve my point in this post, and the style of horror and extremism. I’m so sorry to disappoint, but very very happy that you added to the fount of knowledge here! Because really, it is this kind of discussion that I hope to spark, so thanks!

    • Yes, I was waiting for the anti-Mercola people to cry foul! I am not on board with all of Mercola’s claims, but the ones about glyphosate are very thought provoking to me. AND as far as FEAR MONGERING – HELLO THIS IS A HALLOWEEN POST WE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE AFRAID!!!!
      There are MANY studies linking glyphosates to all sorts of bad stuff, and it is freely available for you to research on the internets. I am happy with the links I provided and really hate getting into link wars with people – it’s SO Paleo Diet Forums!

  5. “The dose makes the poison”
    -Paracelsus, 1538

    Sorry, but the report in the Scientific American link, which shows toxicity of roundup to naked cells in a petri dish, doesn’t clearly translate into the effects of Roundup on whole organisms in an environment, which have natural defenses (like skin) against contact with toxic chemicals of all kinds, organic and inorganic.

    Even water is toxic to organisms at sufficiently high doses. And if you add pure (distilled) water to a culture of cells in a dish, they explode!!! Why is no one calling for a ban on this stuff?!

      • Joe,
        For the record, you didn’t rebut my point, you just made a play on the word ‘dose’.

        This is a disappointing level of discourse for GardenRant. 🙁

        • Sorry to disappoint, Dan, but it’s hard to take seriously a guy who suggests I shouldn’t worry about toxins, because I have skin? Riiight. I feel much better now.

        • Dan N – very sorry you don’t like the discursive quality exhibited in the comments section of a Halloween post on a garden blog. Garden Rant has many voices, and all of them are welcome. I myself love mixing the serious with the cheeky, and I unabashed in my point of view, which I understand may be extreme in regards to the positions of others. However, I do agree that the dose makes the poison. Maybe if glyphosates were sparingly used I would have no problem with them. BUT Round up is the most popular herbicide in the market and is so widely used that crops are genetically modified to revisit it so it can be sprayed EVEN MORE. So by all accounts, this is an OVERDOSE, making this product a POISON.

      • no fear blah blah blah no fear mongering skr here blah blah not even on a halloween post blabitty blah i’m skr i have no room for humor blah blah blah why do i read this blog blah blah sad life sad life blah i waste my time trolling a blogger I hate i am really scary

  6. Ivette, I’m more confused about Glyphosate – and GMOs – after reading the recent New Yorker article.

    And others, including the Mercola article you cited, have cast the blame, not on Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the Roundup liquid, but the spray surfactant (the inert ingredient): polyoxyethyleneamine.

    I’m trying to make sense of it all.

    Thanks for your piece!

    • YES Alan, very good point! The so called inactive ingredients in RoundUp are become more and more suspect, and this is very alarming! That glyphosate in and of itself is bad can hardly be in question – the very nature of the plant is to disrupt the mechanisms by which plants uptake nutrients. Round up ready crops lose MUCH of their nutrient profile as a result! But the fact that all of the problems may be the inert ingredients or a simpatico created between the glyphosate and the inert ingredients is really shocking. I stand behind my choice of it as a Monster. And I think Frankenstein is a good stand-in, because he is equally as confusing. He seems benign, or at least like he has redeeming qualities – but he is still a huge huge problem! Time will tell… but I know I am NOT using it, professionally or in my home garden

    • Oh Allen I wanted to blab some more about the article! I am, as you might imagine, a fan of Vandana Shiva. I stand very much with her, and I do recognize that she can be a bit of a one note, but she has a passion and a conviction for this cause, it is a passion and a voice I very much appreciate. Hers is a very complicated issue, especially in her native India where GMOs will reportedly cure famine and hunger-related diseases. To stand against what scientists tell us is the answer to starvation looks like a foolhardy choice, but she takes it on. I appreciate it and I believe in her position. When the article states that people have been eating GMO food and wearing clothing made from GMO materials and there hasn’t been one documented case of illness from them I have to point out that drs and scientists have all seen a huge rise in certain illnesses for which there is no apparent cause. The studies haven’t been done because the money for studies comes from the manufacturers of seeds and pesticides to prove they are SAFE, not by the government to prove they aren’t! Until there is more money from interested foundations to find out why these things are happening, we won’t know the answers – so I personally decide to err on the side of caution. Let’s just NOT use this stuff! Let’s stop. The earth has a way of achieving balance, and with a world so far out of balance if we don’t start the STOPPING we might have a huge environmental backlash on our hands. So for me, its about being sober and prudent. I understand that others feel differently. I could talk about this all day!

      • I have little doubt that there are, or could be, genetic modifications, properly tested and responsibly released and marketed, that will benefit all of us. But that’s a whole lot of “ifs” that have yet to be implemented in anything that’s come along to date that I’m aware of. As long as market share, the profit motive, investor returns and the rest of greed based thinking takes priority over our simple human survival, everything introduced along these lines is suspect. As our understanding at the molecular level of the physiology of life and growth evolves, we’ll hopefully be able to sort out the beneficial from the disastrous. In the meantime, until that happens, it’s just stupid to unleash most of this stuff into the environment.

        • We feel very similarly about this! I tend to think that while the jury is still out, lets take baby steps into Genetic Modification – let’s not make these products the bulk of the staples of our food supply! There are so many things that are done to us without proper testing, without regulations or checks and balances … enough! I am with you – I’m sure one day we will understand how genetic modifications of our food will in turn modify us. Until we understand all of the ramifications and know that we will benefit from our reactions to these foods, and crops, and the support herbicides that allow these crops to flourish, then let’s be a little more prudent.

      • It figures you would like that lying lier Vandana Shiva. The ultimate anti-gmo hack that can’t even get her head around GURT that isn’t even available. But oh boy those terminator genes are going to spread out into the wild and cause an ecotastrophe. Smfh

        I seriously doubt she even knows what is real and what is her created fiction any more.

          • I love the idea of laughing moms! I just call them as I see them – all of your comments on my blog over the course of my tenure seem to point to you being extremely conservative and unable to see more than your own entrenched viewpoint, OR that you are just one of those argumentative people who love the internet because it allows them to negatively comment under the cloak of anonymity and then skulk away. I would love for us to have these conversations in person – let’s see how you handle yourself when people know your name and give you the same treatment you give me.
            If you aren’t a conservative, then you fooled me. You really really fooled me.

    • Yes the surfacant is more toxic than glyphosate. That is because glyphosate has such a low toxicity it is ridiculous. The surfacant has about the same toxicity as dish soap except without all the sodium in dish soap that is toxic to plants.

      • I’m skr i know everything surfactant is the problem, not the salt cuz the old saw salting the earth doesn’t really mean that salts kill plant life blah blah blah blah blah yea ivette addressed this but I’m not gonna listen cuz i don’t like that bitch i just like trolling every time she posts blah blah blah

        • You’re right. Salts don’t kill plants. Some metal salts provide nutrients to plants. But I specifically mentioned sodium. Sodium can definitely be harmful to plants and dish soaps are loaded with sodium.

  7. Thank you, Ivette! You are one of my gardening heroes! Especially in Southern California with the focus on removing lawns, my clients need to understand that killing the grass is a time consuming project that starts with turning off the water. There’s enough crap in our soil already; I am not adding anymore to it.

    What’s so wrong with a couple of weeds in the garden anyway? No one’s garden looks perfect (well, maybe Martha Stewart’s, but she’s got People) in real life. We should stop trying to re-create magazine perfection. It only leads to disappointment.

    • Oh Angela you are so sweet! Thank you for your kind words! I’m with you – perfection really has no place in my gardens. I LIKE THE FLAWS! I like things a little rough and wild. If we are going to kill off a big swath of lawn, let’s kill it in a different way. Parts of it might come back, and we need to have strategies in place to deal with that. It means more attention to maintenance, and most clients and designers don’t like to hear that. But that is the case. There is NO easy way – we always pay double when we try to use the easy ways out of a situation, I think.
      Best of luck with your projects!

  8. Judicious use of Roundup can be necessary for dealing with specific invasive plants. I’m sorry, but dousing Bermuds grass or Pampas grass with ineffective hot water or dangerous, concentrated vinegar won’t do the trick and hand pulling won’t work either. Unfortpunately, your references don’t help your argument. Dr. Mercola is a grifter and a liar who warns against the “risks” of vaccines and microwave ovens and uses fear to sell supplements. The Scientific American article doesn’t make sense, because surfectants do kill cells. That’s the whole point of horticultural soap. The Canadian article conflated the “risks” of the roundup resistance gene with the “risks” of Roundup, at which point I just quit reading it in despair.

    • Sorry Stella, but surfactants in hort soap are NOT there to kill cells, they are there to create a viscous field that can coat the plant for a time and allow the agents in the soap to penetrate. Yes, people hate Mercola, I get it. He is a polarizing figure. And you can get rid of ANY PLANT INVASIVE OR NOT without Roundup. If using Roundup is important to you and you use it, understand that you are impacting those around you. Smoking is a choice many people make, but if their second hand smoke was floating into your open window and degrading your air quality, I’m sure you’d have a problem.

      • You need to spend some quality time with actual studies. Especially the ones on second hand smoke, they were also resoundly misinterpreted. Yes second hand smoke is dangerous but a little bit floating in your window will not hurt you. The studies focused on people that were exposed to second hand smoke in an office or home environmet for 8 hours a day. So unless you live or share an office with a smoker, you have nothing to worry about.

        • oh hi skr here I’m the Studies Troll yea second hand smoke won’t hurt you but dish soap will blah blah blah

          … okay i had to stop because that was so funny I almost choked on my tongue.

          • I’m glad you are capable of amusing yourself while arguing starwmen. Yes second hand smoke can hurt you if you inhale enough of it and so can dish soap if you drink enough of it. The suggestion that you actually read some scientific studies still holds though. (And not just the abstracts)

        • Yes, skr – I live to amuse myself! I make gardens and cook and grow food and travel and laugh!!! I hope you do all those things too…
          And I HATE the term “straw man”! It is SOOOO paleo diet forums speak! I doubt that all the internet trolls who are always complaining about strawman arguments actually know what they are. You should have been accusing me of using ad hominem attacks on you, which would have given you bonus points because not only would you be using another internet forum catchphrase, you would be totally correct.
          Listen, I get why you need to defend the use of RoundUp – you work in the landscape industry and you still use it because it is easier and cheaper than the alternative. It’s a very hard habit to break. My point is WHY be the dude in the horror film who goes into the basement just because there is no PROOF there is nothing in the basement? Time and time again we’ve seen the same scenario play out! There is something in the basement!!!! (dropping the metaphor now because even I am tired of it) I would like people to prove to me and to provide me with links telling me that Glyphosate and RoundUP are absolutely safe. Scientific studies not funded by Monsanto, or any subsidiary thereof. Peer reviewed, published in respected journals. PLEASE do this for me because it will make my professional like much easier if I could prep my jobs the way I used to. Until you or any one of the people who don’t like my sources come up with the quality of sources you are asking from me to prove YOUR point, then I will abstain from using the product, even when that abstemiousness comes at a financial loss to me. Please educate me – I am open to it. I change my mind all the time! I love learning new things and I have no problem being proven wrong. So have at it!!! Please unmask this monster for me, I’d love to use RoundUp again.

  9. I am surprised by the doubt expressed by the commenter ahead of me. The problems with that particular herbicide are -well- documented. To doubt the dangers in using the stuff (especially considering the synergies created by the inert ingredients) at this point in the game is like doubting anthropogenic climate change.

    Anyway, thanks so much for talking about this. It seems like everywhere a person goes the advice given to newb gardeners is that they -need- to begin by spraying a certain famous herbicide. That is simply untrue. Killing soil flora (and everything else when the inert ingredients are factored in) seems counterproductive not just for the long term productivity of the garden but even for its initial start. Not to mention the truth brought up by Rachel Carson so long ago and still ignored: there is no safe dosage for these kinds of toxins. The idea that limited quantities can somehow be safe is a terrible myth.

    • Fine, if the problems are well documented, then it shouldn’t be difficult to supply appropriate references rather than the nonsensical ones attached to this article. I’ll be happy to read them.

      • Happy to help.

        I am not sure why anyone would dismiss Carson’s analysis about the toxicity of synthetic organic compounds. But, if you are looking for more current stuff you can search the Society of Environmental Journalists’ site for links to peer reviewed articles that show clear links to human health issues. Or, maybe start with E.G. Vallianatos’ Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA (2014) to understand how this particular industry drives bogus studies and then actively tries to dismiss true independent review. Luckily, even with the industry’s obstruction some good science has been done.

        A pretty good summary of some of the problems with glyphosate can be found at:

        I think if I put a bunch of links this site might think I am spamming so I am just offering the one.

        As for how to coach new gardeners I suppose a good place to begin would be the principles of permaculture. Learning to garden is a bit like learning to speak the language of the land. They wouldn’t get instant results but they would gain a good foundation for understanding how the land and plants connect.

        • THANK YOU DEBRA!!! Love the link – Ranters are a wonderful bunch! I think many of the naysayers are mainly angry that I linked to Mercola…
          And I think many in our gardening community feel defensive about a poison they have been using far longer than other poisons … because we had been told it was safe, that it has a very short half-life, and doesn’t persist in the soil. I fell bad too, but rather than defending something that is so obviously BAD I chose to feel the pain of my actions and move forward with a (hopefully) healthier practice, which is NOTHING that is not food-grade is to be used in my garden, and even then in the smallest effective amounts. Muscle, time, and using Evelyn Haddon’s Slow Gardening approach round out my strategy. Permacultural practices are an EXCELLENT alternative. Everyone has to come to their own decision about using this stuff, and I hope they think very carefully before reaching for the red nozzles spray bottle

      • Stella B – a word about references – references posted as footnotes to a controversial subject are often attacked. Some will not like the source. To be frank you can find sourcing to prove ANYTHING on the internet. True scientific studies in peer reviewed journals are hard to come by simply because of money. Studies are commissioned by the corps that produce a product to provide proof of efficacy rather than to disprove its value to the market or its danger to the public. THOSE studies are slow in coming, usually well after said product has been in use – think thalidomide. Think Sevin. Think DDT. All happily used until studies YEARS later prove that all of the ill effects people had been reporting were due to exposure. I want to err on the side of caution. I won’t use these chemicals – but others will, Like I said in the OP, some people will deny and go rushing into the dark because they don’t have enough proof to satisfy them that something is wrong. Those are the people who die early in horror films. (if I might labor the monster metaphor further) – for these people no link that doesn’t hold up their believe system is good enough, which is why I usually don’t post links. I find it derails conversation – the conversation becomes a link war, and sides become entrenched, and there is no movement. I am here to learn and explore, and if anyone has any evidence that Round up is actually just as safe as it says on the bottle, then I hope they share it with me. My life and my business will be much easier!!! Thanks again for commenting

    • Perhaps you could also provide some examples of advice to newbie gardeners too? I’d be happy to read that also.

    • Except Carson was more wrong than she was right. Sure she brought DDT and thinning eggshells to light but then she went off the rails with her unscientific acute cancer theses.

      • skr here blah blah cuz when someone says something very right if they then say something wrong that invalidates all the correct things they said before blah blah blah blah people can’t ever be mistaken must be always right blah blah i am never wrong read my blog and my studies and all my published work oops i don’t have any blah blah blah

        • Well she did specifically mention the ‘no safe quantity’ bit which is total BS. No one is arguing about the eggshell bit. Just because she got one thing right it doesn’t validate all the other stuff that is wrong.

          • When you know you are on the losing side of an argument the only thing you can do is spread the manure .. . oops I meant ‘doubt.’ That is what the tobacco lobby and climate deniers eventually settled for. But in case someone is reading this and wondering if there might be a safe dose for synthetic organic compounds prepare for a text wall. It would seem we don’t know a lot but we know enough to guess they cause great harm Since the studies done by the industry are bogus it might be better to invoke the precautionary principle and ask that they be proven safe before letting these companies make a profit by poisoning the planet. We can predict these things are much elss safe then the marketers tell us because these toxins tend to bioaccumulate (get stored in bodies) instead of disappearing. That means they don’t go away but actually get concentrated over time. When the chemcials are left to weather most actually degrade into things that are even more toxic. Also, the supposed bars for measuring toxicity are not only flawed by being set at arbitrary limits but they also fail to address specific populations like a child’s growing body, how they get stored in women’s fatty tissues or how they can outright kill unintended populations such as anything that lives in water. Not just in streams but the microorganisms in soil water.

        • Debra – thank you very much. I have to say, after all of the times the pharmaceutical and chemical corps have lied to us, there are STILL people who won’t take their statements with a boulder of salt. Instead they ask for those who say “watch out!” to prove beyond a doubt that the substance in question are bad. NO – I, like you, think the standard should be “prove to me that your product is SAFE beyond a doubt!” – These studies should come from independently funded organizations in the public interest. It should come no surprise to people that we are being acted upon for profit, and the entities doing this have no interest in maintaining a healthy planet – they believe, like so many before them, that manifest destiny allows them everything. I believe that we all have a stake in the health of our planet and our neighbors – so let’s err on the side on caution, please! Thanks for your comment!

  10. I agree that homeowners can get by without using glyphosate, but it is often used successfully if large tracts of land need to be healed. The Nature Conservancy uses it when needed:

    “In forest settings, The Nature Conservancy has treated barberry infestations that stretched on for dozens of acres and had come to completely dominate the native ephemerals, shrubs, and seedlings. In such examples, Plumb says, “The future of that forest is very much at stake. Propane and grazing could be options for large infestations, depending on the situation, but if you chose to treat with herbicide, within a year you could knock that infestation back and allow for that forest to return to a more healthy, natural state. You can then be diligent about keeping an eye on future infestations and hand-dig those plants early.”


    The Great Glyphosate Debate (good article)


    As others have indicated, it’s the surfactants that cause the bulk of the problem. One can use Rodeo or Accord (no surfactants) and these are recommended for use in wetland habitat. For the terribly invasive Japanese stilt grass (a huge problem around the wetlands behind my home), the Nature Conservancy recommends selective grass killers correctly applied, for these will not kill broadleaf natives.

    Yet, finally, there is very bad news recently and we can only hope the court overturns. Roundup for protection of FOOD crops needs to go:

  11. Hi Marcia thank you SO much for your thoughtful comment! I think all of your points are very important. As to surfactants – as someone who creates her own “pesticides” with castle soap, I think assigning blame to all matter of surfactants may be a problem. What kind of surfactant used, and in what amounts in a formulation are key – for killing active leafy growth large amounts are absolutely NOT inert! Anyone who gardens organically can tell you that after the first time they kill a plant by using too much soap in their home mix. In the cases of commercial herbicides I can see how surfactants can act as foliage killers, but I don’t want anyone to stop using appropriate ratios in their home formulations because they heard or read that surfactants are killing everything and are the bad part of Round up. And thank you for your links. I appreciate that many re-nativing groups are doing lots of good – but I disagree with the statement in the link that muscle and force won’t do the trick. Because they will – even with the most invasive of species. It will just cost more money and take more time, and doing the job they set out to do for what is usually a paltry budget is very important to the success of the mission. So let’s make a case for why we are going to use RoundUp to create a healthy ecosystem. The logic of that doesn’t track for me, although I very much understand that these groups are under time pressures and financial pressures. One of the reasons I linked to the Mercola site was because of the point they bring up in the “roundup myth article” – the shipmate pathway. That is the pathway by which plants take up the active ingredient in glyphosate – it is absent in mammals. I found Mercola’s point about the fact that our gut bacteria DO have these pathways and are being profoundly impacted by the roundup ready altered food sources very compelling. I get tat many dismiss him out of hand, but we DO have an intestinal biome that very much mirrors the biome of our planet – it is kind of a thing of beauty in the way that the macrocosm and the microcosm are reflected. So even though the jury may still be out on the veracity of these claims, I feel personally that in the spirit of harm reduction we demand that our cities DO NOT USE RoundUp in large scale land reclamation projects. It will take longer, yes. It will cost more, yes. But the healthy native landscape will be built on a foundation that has no questionable aspects. I know my opinion is of little consequence, but I seem to just go spouting off all the time anyway! Thanks again for your thoughtful comment and for providing great links for us all to follow.

    • There’s a reason why you should use horticultural surfacants instead of household soaps, sodium. The evil surfacants from those awful chemical companies have the same toxicity to mammals but are formulated to not burn the crap out of your plants. Oh but you wash your dishes with it so it must be safer

  12. It won’t get nearly the attention that CHEMICALS get (shudder in horror here), but here are some of my monsters:
    A drenching “Pineapple Express” rainstorm just days before my cherries are ready to harvest, causing them to all pop wide open within hours;

    Deer! And elk! And bears (oh my)!

    Fireblight in my pears….this is like a zombie invasion–slow-moving, not unstoppable, but intrepid, persistent and creepy;

    Seeing that first brown-black spot on the bottoms of your first tomatoes…

    Leaf-cutter ants.

    That tick you find ( by feeling it crawling on your skin) in the middle of the night after a day in the garden or field.

    I think there are many more, but I can’t go on!

    • YES to those monsters – I mean NO, they are NO GOOD – but a resounding yes to your spooky spirit! Tis the season! I have to say, Anne, I’m a little miffed that nobody mentioned my horror movie yet! I think it has real possibilities!!!

  13. I just finished feeding my two dogs and letting them out for a run in the fenced yard. I’ve done this thousands of times, and pretty much every time, someone else in the neighborhood is walking their dog on the sidewalk outside of the fence. And literally every time I turn the dogs loose into that situation, Silas, our male mutt goes nuts and feigns murderous intent to any and all who might dare to approach so near, and every time I feel compelled to apologize to the neighbor du jour and remind Silas of his unacceptable behavior while knowing full well that I’m wasting my breath. Freckles, our smaller older female, has mostly reached the point in life that finds this daily dance way less important than, say, finding a bit of bare dirt to eat. The point I’m taking the long way round to get to here is the role of the fence in Silas’ reaction.
    Were the fence not there, the intensity of the scene would be greatly altered. Silas’ understanding of his territory wouldn’t be quite so rigidly defined. There might be some awkward circling and butt-sniffing initially, but accommodations would be made, common interests would be identified, a generally more peaceful resolution would be agreed upon. Life would be richer and more interesting. Growth might have occurred, horizons expanded, truths learned.
    And so it seems to be with confrontations on the internet. The fences are not only there, they’re incredibly high, topped with razor wire and electrified to boot. Which is why it’s so refreshing to read Ivette’s challenge to others to change her mind. She’s opened the gate, stepped out on the sidewalk so to speak. So lets get out there with her and really talk, sniff a few butts if that’s what it takes (too crude?). We are literally all in this together. If the wonders of chemistry can make my life easier while staying healthy, why would I object? And if an honest conversation and an unbiased evaluation can save a lot of us from screwing over our health unnecessarily, who would object in that case? In the meantime, good cheap beer is my equivalent of eating dirt. Don’t expect me to get too riled up.

    • Joe, seriously – thank you so much! As a dog owner, I think your analogy holds up perfectly. Let’s butt-sniff. Let’s not be so defended, because these issues impact us all and we need to work together for a healthy planet. We are gardeners! And I’m with you in another sense; let’s have a drink and discuss like friends and comrades rather than enemies. Let’s diffuse the tension and have a laugh. Yes, the situation is dire, but a little humor, a little beer, and a little bourbon helps us maintain a balanced, pleasant demeanor in the face of it all. Getting riled up isn’t good for us. Cheers!!!

  14. Ivette, seriously you are God-like in my estimation… I have laughed my ass off at this rant. I am SO SICK of listening to the contrary skr’s of this world… blah blah blah is the best response.
    I am saddened to know that I still use round-up occasionally – when I have an invasive turf to clear for a project, when I am dealing with a truly invasive plant like privet in a wetland area and when I don’t want to pull the weeds out of an area mulched in gravel because that pulls the soil to the surface and creates more weeds.
    I generally use a “fight fire with fire” excuse for using it, but I sure would be glad to use something less monstrous if anyone has any suggestions.
    And please don’t talk to me about boiling water or layers of newspaper. I am a professional garden designer and my clients would think I was bat-shit if I suggested those things.

    • So sorry for my late response to this comment David mcMullin – I’m really happy this has been a good thread for you! I also have been very pleased. I feel I’m here to spark discussion and to get our community to turn over ideas, and a vibrant back and forth is healthy and meaningful! But you know, some people don’t really want to discuss, they just want to say “NAY”. Others have personal issues, and others really believe in these products and that convenience trumps all. I understand all of these things. I’m glad people voice opposition to this topic, because the discussion helps us clarify our stance … and sometimes, through discussion, we find that our position needs re-thinking. It has happened to me! One of my early posts generated a conversation that truly changed my mind about a long-held belief, and my practice is changing because of it. I don’t want anyone to think I post these editorials because I think I am RIGHT – I do it to figure things out with my community of active, intelligent, and caring garden folk.
      You and I are very alike! I too, am a garden professional. I’ve had to walk into a very hard brick wall of my own creation – I wrote a book all about how bad front lawns are and that all lawn should be removed organically and NO EXCEPTIONS could be made or THE PLANET WILL COLLAPSE! So, of course, everything falls apart when I need to remove lawns for clients fast, and on a budget. I can’t in good conscience use these products, and I CAN’T be that flagrant a hypocrite, either. It isn’t easy. My lawns are removed by hand, and the gardens that replace them need ALOT of hand weeding. I plant oceans of ground cover to smother weeds. I check my gardens 3x a year to make certain the maintenance is working. My clients don’t like the extra cost, but they like that their children are safe in these gardens. My contractors HATE that I won’t allow for glyphosate in projects, but they charge for the extra labor and they do what they are hired for. The maintenance contractors REALLY HATE the work of weeding – but they are paid well to do it, and if they are diligent fir the first year, all subsequent seasons are better.
      Now I get that there are reasons to use this product. But NOT the way it is being used now – as liberally as table salt. If everyone were as judicious and thoughtful about their use of glyphosates as you, we would not have our current problem. So thank you, David, for being one of the good guys – moderation and thoughtful use is the key. Unfortunately, the mindset of the rest of the planting world isn’t like yours, so stronger medicine is needed. I wish it were different, because spraying this killer on plants made things WAY easier!
      And yes, if I told my clients we were going to cover their lawn with cardboard and let things die and then plant into that – they would hire someone else. We walk a very fine line between commerce and ecological responsibility!

  15. I got tired of reading the many replies, so if this has already been mentioned, please disregard.

    I have no issue with your blog content except this: I am that little old lady with the beautiful gardens that people love to compliment, yet I will not use any of the herbicides or fertilizers you mention. It is being done organically, and shame on you for thinking organic = messy or ugly or unhealthy. It is taking a lot of work–yes work. The one thing real gardeners enjoy knowing how it benefits plants.

    The comment about the ill effects of hand weeding are technically true, but not an issue because I add humus continually and because the micro community whatever you want to call them are quick to replicate, if healthy. It only becomes a serious issue in regular tilling in fields, without adding humus, or with heavy chemical use. Not by me digging out to the root the solitary dandelion in a well filled bed.

    Final comment: the claims against the rat tumor study are ridiculous, because of the source of most all of them and because the original studies showing the stuff to be “safe” used exactly the same rats. Monsanto’s studies even got the same results, but cut the time of the study to 3 mos. to present data without the tumors. THey control the final reports, you know, not the hired scientists.

  16. I’m sorry, Erin Bailey, I don’t understand your comment. I don’t equate organic practices with being ugly or unhealthy, (but they can be messy – just take a look at any compost pile). This post was heavy on satire and my tongue was right in my cheek for much of the writing, but the point of it is very clear : Don’t Use Glyphosate.
    I applaud you for your organic ways, and am pleased you are passionate about them! It takes WORK to be a good organic gardener! I’m glad you are proudly flying your flag. Keep that thing waving!
    Very good points you bring up – thank you for your comment!

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