Everyone loves poinsettias at Christmas but are they toxic to cats and dogs? What about people? Many websites include the plant on their “toxic Christmas plants list.
Compost sounds like such a great thing but it can make you sick. The chance of this happening is very small, but it is possible and people have died from it.
The first thing to be concerned about is the dust. Small dust particles can coat your lungs and cause breathing issues. This is a bigger concern with dry compost so it is a good idea to wet it down before you use it. It is also a good idea to wear a respirator.
There are also a number of diseases that you can catch from compost. The best way to protect yourself is with masks and gloves.
It is important to put these diseases into perspective – they are all extremely rare. I do get a regular tetanus shot and I do wear gloves to prevent infection on my hands. I don’t wear a respirator nor do I worry about getting sick from compost. However, it is important to know the symptoms in case you do get sick.
Fruits and vegetables are supposed to be good for you – how can they be poisonous? You are probably thinking that I am talking about vegetables sprayed with pesticides but I’m not. Or maybe this refers to vegetables contaminated with pathogens – that’s not it either. I’ll briefly discuss both those problems, but this post is about non-GMO poisonous fruits and vegetables with no synthetic spray or pathogen contamination.
Some fruits and vegetables are poisonous, but not all of the claims are correct.
Several gardening trends are colliding. Lots of new gardeners want to grow vegetables and raised beds are very popular. Combine that with a desire to be green and reuse material and tire gardens seem to be a good option. These are gardens made with old discarded tires.
Tires have another big advantage. They accumulate heat which potatoes and tomatoes just love, especially in colder climates.
But are these tires safe? Do they leach toxic material that will get into the food and contaminate it? There are lots of opinions on this, but very little in the way of a scientific review. Time to change that.
Everybody knows by now that electronic devices with displays like cell phones and computers give off radiation and people have been looking for ways to reduce their exposure. A NASA study is claimed to report that some plants absorb this harmful radiation and protect the user. Cactus in particular were very efficient at absorbing radiation.
How effective are cactus and what is the best way to use them for protection? Are they as good as other plants?
A few times a year I’ll see a meme float through social media telling gardeners they can die from soil borne diseases. The most recent of these was one for Legionnaires’ disease in New Zealand. I have also seen them for Tetanus, and I recently got my booster shot, just to be sure. For years I’ve been reading that sphagnum peat moss also carries a nasty bug.
As I write this, the news is saturated with information about the coronavirus and people are suiting up with masks and body armor. Should gardeners be doing the same thing when they head out into the garden? Should we wear masks and latex gloves to stay safe?
I decided to write a blog post about soil borne diseases that gardeners can get and try to uncover the myths about them. I expected to find 4 or 5 diseases and write a bit about each one so that I could try to understand this problem better.
You will be very surprised at what I found.
The great debate about Roundup causing cancer had a major shakeup in August 2018, when a court ruling went against Monsanto (parent company is Bayer) and awarded $289 million to Dewayne Johnson because Roundup caused his non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The courts have reduced the settlement to $78 million and Monsanto is appealing that.
A few months later two more lawsuits reached the same conclusion.
For the general public this was proof positive that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup causes cancer.
But what are the facts?
Growing food in plastic containers is on the rise, but is this a safe practice? What about the chemicals that leach out of plastic – are they absorbed by the soil or the food? Do they cause a health risk?
There is a great movement towards organic gardening to grow healthy food locally, and for smaller back yards and balconies it’s attractive to grow food in small containers. I’ve even seen pictures of people growth vegetables right in the bag that contained the soil they bought. This is all so simple but is it a healthy way to produce food? Is it still organic if you grow in plastic?
It has been a dry summer and flower pots are being blamed for several fires. The news headings are everywhere!
- “Fire Chief Gord Weir stands outside of a home damaged by a fire …. He suspects the fire may have been caused by peat moss left in an old flower pot” (ref 1)
- “Flower pots became a major Montreal fire hazard” (ref 2)
- “Des Moines fire officials said a flower pot spontaneously combusted Wednesday, causing more than $80,000 in damage to a home” (ref 3)
The facts seem simple. Flower pot soil is made mostly of peat moss, something that burns easily. When it gets too hot it ignites and starts to burn. If the pot is near a home, the house also catches on fire.
What is the real story behind all this? Can peat moss spontaneously combust? Lets have a look at the facts.