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|What Was Canada’s Top Horticultural Story In 2001?|
|by Art Drysdale
by Art Drysdale
Art Drysdale, a life-long resident of Toronto and a horticulturist well known all across Canada, is now a resident of Parksville, British Columbia on Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo. He has reno-vated an old home and has a new garden there. His radio gardening vignettes are heard in south-western Ontario over radio station Easy 101 FM out of Tillsonburg at 2 PM weekdays.
Art also has his own website at http://www.artdrysdale.com
|December 30, 2001
| These plantains (Plantago major) are just about dead only 48 hours after a simple spray with the hormone 2,4-D. The common weed killer 2,4-D causes broadleaf plants (not grasses) to grow so quickly that their roots split and the plants die. |
It remains the best solution to the control of lawn weeds and reports of its terrible effects have all been shown to be incorrect.
It is customary at year-end to attempt to summarize at least some of the year’s most significant happenings. In my opinion, though there were many other topics that engendered a great deal of interest, there were two that rose above everything else: 1) the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling that the Town of Hudson Quebec was within its right to ban totally the use of federally approved pesticides, and the introduction of the new Canadian Plant Hardiness Zone Map. That does not mean that I am down rating two major “new problems” that came to light this year: Plum Pox virus, and Sudden Oak Death syndrome. I’ll try to deal with these two, at least briefly, next week.
Regarding the Supreme Court ruling, over the 40 years that I’ve been involved in grass roots gardening, I’ve talked with thousands of gardeners about the use of chemicals for various purposes--primarily for insect, disease and weed control. I’ve stationed myself near the shelves containing these products in garden centres and in the aisles of mass merchandisers, anywhere the public goes when they have a problem and need a product to solve the problem.
When people have one of these problems they come in and read labels, sometimes as long as several minutes, and buy what they perceive to be an appropriate product to do the job. I learned years ago, don’t try to talk them into a product that either requires more applications or a longer time for action to occur. They want basically instant results. The fact that they consistently read labels before making a buying decision is the reason I believe that putting pesticide products in locked cabinets or behind a counter where they must have personal service from a staff member are bad ideas.
Over the years both in Canada and the USA there have been numerous surveys of the public on their perception and use of pesticides. A recent one in Canada, for example, reveals much the same as I have found over the years at the shelves and in the aisles: that virtually all homeowners are likely to want to purchase a product if they come up against a pest, plant disease or weed situation. In fact, virtually all will take action if it’s a pest in the home, and an amazing 90 percent will take such action in other situations such as weeds, pests or diseases in the outdoor garden.
A good survey of the public conducted by a reputable polling firm obviously needs to be well written and designed, and one that I saw back in June certainly fits that description. Some of the polling questions show that a whopping 81 to 97 percent in Canada (depending on the type of pest) desire to take action against pests in the home, as well as weeds and pests/diseases in the garden. Even more interesting in light of our Federal government’s one-time stated aim to ban the sale of “cosmetic chemicals” is the fact that 79 to 90 percent of Canadians said they definitely wanted to be able to purchase the proper products if necessary to take care of whatever the pest problem was.
The reason for the range of these percentages is that Canadians vary slightly in their replies to such surveys depending on the product category. For example, consistently the highest percentage of respondents say “yeah” to chemicals to control indoor pests, and the lowest end of the percentage range generally represents those who wish to use a chemical to control lawn weeds. But isn’t it interesting that even the lowest percentage is 79 or 81 percent?
Some other interesting points arise from the recent survey. For example, about two-thirds of Canadians regard the existing level of regulation of pesticides either as adequate, or more than adequate. As a follow-on, Canadian homeowners generally have a strong opinion on whether or not the Federal government should prohibit the sale of pesticides; and apparently only a very small percentage of us have no opinion or are undecided on the topic.
Surveys indicate Canadians oppose the Federal government banning sale of pesticide products in all categories, but especially so in the indoor product area.
Finally, I note from other survey questions that Canadians are definitely more likely to oppose than support any Federal prohibition of the sale of any of these products. Not surprisingly, Canadians who generally don’t use these products are evenly divided on the subject except once again, when it comes to indoor pest products; even non-users oppose any government prohibition on indoor pest products!
I don’t think these surveys tell us anything new--homeowners definitely agree pesticide products have huge benefits both in and out of the home, but they may also have disadvantages such as toxicity to humans, animals and the environment. But then so do many other much more commonly used chemicals such as salt and windshield washer antifreeze. My observation is: Canadians don’t want any more limitations on the sale of these products, even the likes of locking them up so they cannot make an informed purchase decision based on what they read on the labels.
The survey to which I refer, though completed in May this year, has still not been released for what I consider ridiculous reasons. I now hear that it may well be released, with some added even newer data, next month. That newer information will likely include observations from some municipalities (large and small) many of which I understand are beginning to question if they can in fact (or indeed wish to) legislate against Federal-government-approved products. Obviously this top story of 2001 will carry on as a top interest item likely through all of 2002, and perhaps even longer.
Art C. Drysdale, 6 Nesbitt Drive, Toronto, Ontario M4W 2G3
Art Drysdale was horticultural editor of Canada's oldest national gardening magazine, Plant & Garden. He is heard Saturdays from 9:05 to 10 AM, with a live radio broadcast on Toronto's powerful and clear, AM740 CHWO Primetime Radio.
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