Scientists use the absence or presence of the monarch butterfly to measure the health of our ecosystem: both adult and larval stages are highly sensitive to pesticides, climate change and loss of habitat. Here’s what can you do to help.
Gardeners have been conditioning their soil with sphagnum peat moss for years, unknowingly contributing to carbon emissions by depleting some of the planet’s great carbon sinks. The peat bogs across the world do more to take carbon out of the air than the tropical rainforests. And they are being harvested at an unsustainable rate.
If your potted plants are looking a little sorry right now — wilting, new growth shriveling or a general lack of unhappiness — it could be short winter days or dry heat. Or it might be minuscule troublemakers: spider mites. These tiny creatures, less than a millimeter in size, are not easily seen. The best way to check for them is to examine the plant in a sunny window or a strong backlight. If you see fine webbing, especially in the crotches of the stems or on new growth, it’s a sure sign your plant is under attack. The mites suck on the plant sap, causing stilted new growth and deformed leaves. Infested plants will start to turn brown. If left unchecked, mites could destroy a whole houseplant.
When it comes to pest control, often the best thing to do is... nothing.
It’s a common feeling to go into attack mode when your landscape is being chomped on. A client told me, “I buy organic fruit for my family, try not to keep anything in plastic because of the chemicals it leaches, but when I saw my shrubs being devoured by insects, I was ready to get out the DDT!”
It’s practically a ritual in Westchester. Spread fertilizer on the lawn in the spring and fall, maybe even twice more during the summer, so it stays a bright green. Add limestone to keep the soil alkaline, to increase nutrient uptake. Apply a pre-emergent to control the weeds. Spray Roundup and pesticides when needed.