I’ve been besieged with a lot of email petitions recently about a pesticide called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), found in some plants sold by nurseries, which has been shown to kill bees, butterflies and other pollinators – so the word is definitely out. When pollinators visit the flowers or caterpillars eat the leaves of the pre-treated plant, they die. There’s a concern to humans too, as herbs also are being sprayed (see example below). So what can we do? I received info from the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) in Seattle WA, regarding questions people should ask their nurseries.
With the drought in the west and the growing appreciation for natives and other drought-tolerant landscapes, I’m writing some articles for our local paper – here is the link to the first one that explains why, here’s the second on the planning process, and here’s the last one on plant selection. I wanted to post more photos of converted landscape projects in Southern California, including our own. [Read more...]
I did a presentation on GMOs for our local AAUW discussion group and thought ‘why waste all that reading’ – so here’s a quick overview of what I learned. I read the following books: Mendel in the Kitchen by geneticist Nina Federoff, which was ranked more anti-GMO in this helpful article by Nathanael Johnson on grist.org, and Food Inc. (2003) by journalist Peter Pringle, which was more pro-GMO. I also read [Read more...]
Another great talk — by Abby Harned from Three Sisters Farm in Redlands CA — at our Redlands horticulture meeting last night. (One advantage of being program chair is you get to invite wonderful speakers.) We learned first-hand how an organic farm is set up, and how they attract natural predators –insect and mammals that include coyotes and weasels — to take care of pests. They also plant rows of native plants and pollinator-attracting plants that provide habitat for beneficial insects. It was obvious that Abby and her husband, Jason, really love what they do. [Read more...]
In writing an article for the Organic Trade Association I came across an interesting program that certifies livestock producers (ranches, farms) for having wildlife-friendly and even predator-friendly practices. They allow carnivores such as coyotes and foxes to co-exist with their agricultural practice. What a great concept. [Read more...]
It’s nearing October and I’m still seeing some butterflies around – a few Western Tiger Swallowtails although they’re much fewer, some Cabbage Whites and a variety of those little orange ones that I’ve given up identifying. I checked in with a couple butterfly aficionados on what plants were ushering in the butterflies during the late summer months. [Read more...]