A chemical conundrum

I’ve always been a strong believer in minimising chemical use where possible

BACK in the day, a lot of farmers had a beaten up old cupboard in the back of the shed where containers, canisters, bottles and vials were stashed, with and without labels.

And that was just liquor cabinet. Thank goodness those days are gone. It doesn’t have to be that way in this day and age - for instance, you might use an old fridge instead of a cupboard.

The fact is, we professionals in the horticulture industry sometimes have to use chemicals.

Some of my media colleagues tend to use more in their hair than in their gardens, but that’s another issue.

I’ve always been a strong believer in minimising chemical use where possible.

Practices such as companion planting, using natural sprays and mixes, and rubbing fresh lavender and bicarbonate of soda into your armpits instead of using deodorant all add up to make a difference.

I think back to when I was doing my training at Yangoolum Nursery (“Home of Australia’s Largest Lantana Bush”) when the rules regarding chemical use changed.

One of the old school horticulturists there, with knapsack on his back, was moaning about the tighter regulations and restrictions coming in at the time.

“It’s not right, Philip,” he’d say to me, getting my name wrong. “What’s this stuff going to do to you? It’s mainly water for goodness sake.”

He’d then proceed to hit me point-blank with a dose of RyeStar X5 (Active ingredient: eattius skinnawaay) before asking: “Now that doesn’t hurt, right? Those blokes in Canberra don’t know what they’re talking about.”

I’d shake my head with all the masculinity I could muster, enduring the searing sensation of the chemical penetrating through my epidermis, before running for the aloe vera plant to smear on my face, and wait for my sight to return.

Sadly, that old timer is gone now, and it was the chemicals which got him in the end. We’d warned him about climbing up to place half-empty containers on the top of the shelving- it was only a matter of time before he toppled backwards and brought the entire lot down on top of himself.

The crematorium said they’d never seen so many different coloured flames before.

The point is, use chemicals as directed and as they are meant to be used.

Tip of the Month: Stop the mower before checking the blade sharpness, that way you’ll save fuel.

Better Backyards with Gherkin JarvisSelf-proclaimed gardening expert and carpet enthusiast, Gherkin Jarvis, brings you his thoughts on Australia’s great lifestyle tradition, the backyard.


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