Page 167 - 2017-greengate-Gardensense-magazine
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tip: Get on top of pests and diseases as soon as they are noticed.
Integrated pest management
Integrated Pest Management is a way of keeping pests and disease under control in our gardens, public areas, parks and recreation areas. Most important is learning what measures are practical to accomplish this. It his does not mean killing everything we don’t want or think we shouldn’t have. The City of Calgary Parks Department helps us understand why pest problems occur and how their natural enemies are being preserved.
Gardensense weeds
“A weed is a plant in the wrong place”. It can be invasive or merely a nuisance. Most plants we call weeds are native to our prairies and survive well here. Some have been accidentally imported from other areas or countries, and grow too well in ours. Some are attractive and easy enough to pull out that they can be controlled and others must be eradicated regularly so we won’t become overwhelmed.
Some well known garden plants, such as Shasta daisy, resemble the native Ox-eye daisy, which can spread very quickly by seed and underground horizontal stems. The native one is considered a noxious weed and the other a garden perennial.
Creeping bell flower may produce up to 3,000 seeds in one year - no wonder there were so many of them, until they were declared illegal within the city. Field bindweed is very hardy - it has roots to 5 to 6 metres deep! The seed can survive for 20 to 30 years in the soil, which makes it difficult to eliminate by digging.
Some weeds, such a dandelions, can be easily dug out of lawns with a dandelion digger. There are broad-leafed weed killers that will kill weeds on contact that but do not harm the grass. Unfortunately, they can’t tell the difference between annual and perennial flowers, or weeds. Read the label carefully. There are also non- selective weed killers that kill everything green and growing that they touch. They are very useful, but be careful that you don’t mistakenly kill plants you enjoy. You can paint the leaves of plants you want to kill with a non-selective weed killer, using a small paintbrush, but be careful that it doesn’t drip onto other plants or grass. Beware of companies that want to spray your grass with weed killer several times a year. There is no point in spraying the grass with weed killer unless there are weeds to kill.
tip: greengate is now a voluntary member of the City of Calgary invasive-free retailer certification program. As such, greengate will not sell plants that are deemed invasive by the City of Calgary and province of Alberta by complying with the Alberta Weed Control Act. This act identifies noxious weeds and limits their distribution in Alberta.
It is easier to reach for an insecticide, a weed killer or a possible answer for a disease than it is to decide how necessary it might be. With chemical controls used much less often and a better understanding of why and how pest controls can be used safely, our environment is now much safer for us and the wildlife that inhabit it. There are much safer alternatives to the older, most toxic pesticides of the past. Read labels!
New insecticides are available in which elements more toxic to people have been removed and those less harmful to people are retained. They are gradually becoming accepted. Others notice that some indicate on a label that they are safe after one day - fine if you use it on day two, but not so reassuring if you are doing the spraying. Many insects and small animals are considered harmful if they are abundant, yet they are the food of those higher in the food chain. Those in the larval stage can look odd or scary but will soon become moths or butterflies - quite harmless. Perhaps, over time, we will recognize that our park and green spaces do not have to be ‘picture perfect’ but able to tolerate the natural enemies of pests.
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