. . . Fall is an important time of year for employing organic and sustainable gardening methods.
Preparing for next year– Be Pesticide Free!
The fall is a key part of the gardening cycle because it allows us to prepare our garden for the winter and sets us up for a productive spring and summer.
Most pesticides and fertilizers used today are produced with harmful chemicals that even when applied correctly can have adverse effects on the environment, pollinators, and human health.
But don’t worry– there are plenty of ways to have a healthy garden and lawn without using noxious chemicals.
Leave the Leaves
Not all leaves need to be raked up and disposed of immediately:
Consider that your leaves are a free fertilizer and weed suppressant! This makes them perfect for organic gardening.
Leaves also provide important winter habitat for butterflies, bees, and other beneficial bugs.
Finally, “leaving your leaves” reduces emissions associated with polluting leaf blowers. Keeping leaves out of the landfill also prevents the generation of potent methane emissions.
So how can you use leaves?
Use whole leaves around perennials, trees and bushes, or lightly layered on lawn (they may need to be shredded first). You can also create a leaf pile that will decompose into “leaf mold“– a rich, valuable compost amendment to be used in warmer months. Or– if you’re like me– simply pile your leaves on your vegetable garden bed and turn them into the soil in the spring before planting.
And if you still have too many leaves, use your curbside compost can to dispose of them (please keep them out of the gutters and storm drains). If you have a lot of leaves, give us a shout and we’ll help you get an extra container or two.
Use organic amendments to improve the health of your soil
Materials like the aforementioned leaves, as well as other compost, manure, bone meal, etc. can be used to balance the pH of your soil and will release nutrients into the soil to create a vibrant ecosystem and help your garden grow. Mulches can also be great for keeping weeds down, retaining moisture, and feeding the soil. Other organic soil enhancers, like coffee grounds, tea bags, and even newspaper can be an important tool in keeping your garden thriving. Learn more about amending your soil. Read more
Since last spring, little green hexagonal signs have been blooming in Salt Lake City gardens. These Pesticide Free Yard signs are part of the Salt Lake City Pesticide Free Campaign in partnership with Healthy Babies Bright Futures (HBBF). HBBF encourages residents to protect our families and the environment by eliminating pesticide use.
Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department teamed up with Beyond Pesticides to guide residents who want to keep their gardens beautiful without using harmful chemicals. And it’s working! Since 2018, over 340 individuals have pledged to go pesticide free.
And even though summer is coming to a close, you can still go pesticide free in your yard. Eliminating your use of toxic chemicals is a year-round challenge that will protect your family and neighborhood.
Pollinators: we need them! And this Saturday, June 15, you can join Catalyst Magazine, Wasatch Community Gardens, and Slow Food Utah to help celebrate pollinators at the 9th Annual Bee Fest.
The event, which kicks off Pollinator Week (June 17-23), will be abuzz with pollinator activities including poetry readings, bee-friendly craft projects, games, and even an all-ages costume contest. If you care about pollinators, you won’t want to miss Bee Fest!
We’ll be there tabling and discussing our Pesticide Free SLC campaign. Come by, say hi, and pick up your free yard sign to show your commitment to chemical-free yard care that supports pollinators (and our health and environment).
On April 13, Stonyfield Yogurt will host a “Field Day” of fun-filled family activities for the general public to enjoy, which celebrates a new program and collaboration with the City.
Bouncy houses, games, music, free organic yogurt and other activities will be located between playing fields at the Regional Athletic Complex and are open to all. Education about organic field maintenance will also take place at a fun “Edutainment Cart” featuring interactive and educational activities for kids and parents.
At 1 pm Mayor Jackie Biskupski will receive a donation of $5,000 from Stonyfield Organic yogurt to support the Pesticide Free SLC program. It will be used to convert two fields at the Salt Lake Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) to organic land care maintenance methods.
The company will also pledge an additional $40,000 to cover technical services to implement and identify best management practices that could be scaled up at the RAC, with the goal of making it the first sports complex in the nation with professional-grade fields being maintained through organic maintenance practices.
What: “Field Day of Fun!” to Celebrate Organic Land Care with Stonyfield Organic
The initiative is aimed at reducing overall chemical use in the Salt Lake City community and includes both a municipal and public focus. Building off the best management practices already employed by the Parks Division for the maintenance of all municipal parks and fields, the City has been piloting organic land care methods at both Laird and Madsen parks since 2017.
The support of Stonyfield will give Salt Lake City its largest organically-maintained lawn areas to date, with the focus on high-visibility and heavy-use spaces.
This Halloween, we’re featuring spiders on the blog! But not to scare you. In fact, we thought Halloween would be the perfect opportunity to shed some (not-so-spooky) light on these creepy crawlies.
Our eight-legged friends (yes – you read that right) top the list of the most misunderstood helpers and are labeled as pests. Entomologists are working hard to change the public’s perception of spiders through education and outreach. After all, we are less likely to be afraid of something that we are familiar with and spiders have an important ecological role as the top invertebrate predator.
Spiders evolved 380 million years ago (long before the dinosaurs) and are believed to be the first animals to live on land. They are living fossils that evolved from an underwater ancestor that makes them closer cousins to a horseshoe crab than an insect.
Spiders are often lumped together with insects even though they are very different creatures. Spiders are in the same phylum (Arthropods) as insects, because they have a segmented body. To put that in perspective, humans are in the same phylum (Chordata) as hagfish, and obviously, other than a hollow nerve cord, we are nothing like a hagfish. The differences are that big!
Without spiders, we would be waist deep in other insects!! Spiders eat an astronomical amount of bugs – somewhere in the range of 880 million tons of bugs a year!
Fear and loathing
You can Google hundreds of news articles about car wrecks and house fires caused by people’s fear of spiders. Just a few days ago, there was a house fire in California where a man burnt down his parent’s house trying to kill a black widow. While there is research that shows some people are born with an innate fear of spiders, other people raise them as pets. Read more
The spring and summer months are the perfect time to barbecue and picnic. Which means delicious fruits and veggies. Because let’s be honest, no picnic is complete without a scrumptious apple or pear. Unfortunately, our tasty produce is also a common source of consuming harmful chemicals from pesticide residue.
Fruits and vegetables that are grown conventionally are often exposed to many pesticides before they are shipped to our local grocery stores.
Luckily there are effective and natural alternatives to reduce the amount of chemicals we ingest. Join our #PesticideFreeSLC campaign and pledge to keep our bodies, yards, and ecosystems healthy, happy, and safe by going pesticide free!
Most pesticides and fertilizers used today are produced with harmful chemicals that even when used correctly can have adverse effects on human health.
Common diseases that have affected public’s health in the 21st century include asthma, autism, birth defects, reproductive dysfunction, diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and several types of cancer. They all have ties to pesticide exposure and there are many more that are directly connected to pesticide exposure.
Children in particular are at a higher risk of exposure to these chemicals, due to their size and exploratory nature. They are more prone to place household items and objects that could be contaminated into their hands and mouths. Kids enjoying playing in the dirt, rolling around in the grass, and climbing trees; all potential sources for pesticide interaction. Compared to adults, children also have a proportionally higher intake of food, water, and air, further increasing their chemical exposure.
By limiting your pesticide and chemical fertilizer use you are reducing their exposures, providing a safe and healthy home for yourself and your loved ones. We hope you will go Pesticide Free this growing season and take The Pledge to be a #PesticideFreeSLC.