Tagged with "Professionals"
A friend called recently to ask for our opinion on a backyard situation. A large number of caterpillars were descending from webs in a tree and nibbling on his plants. He called in a tree expert who recommended that the offending tree be cut down and removed. Was this truly the only way to manage the problem?
Happily, we could tell him to do nothing: keep the tree, and not to worry about the plants. The caterpillars are Fall Webworms, whose webs start showing up in late summer.
The parents are pretty little white moths. They are native to the US; highly prolific, they lay their eggs in sunny spots on a large variety of host trees. The eggs hatch into the “worms” which weave the nest (same as silk worms). The nests protect them from predators, but they must come out to eat more leaves.
As it is late in the growing season, the leaves they eat have already done their photosynthetic job and losing some of them to the webworms is no real loss to the parent plant. Many of the caterpillars will in turn become food--for birds and predator insects who need the protein for migrating or overwintering.
So, just let them be.
Sadly, the people who don’t know about all this may be spraying, pruning, or even chopping down a whole tree. Compare that to what a few little caterpillars can do.
Note: Our last tip mentioned that milkweed doesn’t provide resources for anything but Monarch butterflies. This is not true, there are a large number of butterflies, bees and insects that benefit from milkweed, and I was quickly brought to task by some of our well informed readers, many thanks to them. Here’s more https://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/Wings_sp11_milkweed.pdf
A Company on a PRFCT Mission:
The Clean Air Lawn Care franchise was created out of a desire to change the negative impacts of lawn care on the environment. They use solar powered equipment, adhere to many PRFCT principles and have become allies in
promoting toxic-free lawns for the health of people, pets and the planet.
Interview with Clean Air Lawn Care CEO Kelly Giard
Q: You weren’t always in the landscape industry, what drew you in that direction?
A: Our original mission was to become a disruptive business model that lead the way in driving down the 10-12% of the nation’s air pollution from lawn care to close to 0%. That challenge is what drew me and still does. We have since broadened out to adopting the same mission with regard to eliminating chemicals from lawn care with organic practices.
Q: At PRFCT, we feel that organic is the future of the landscape industry. How did you come to identify that gap in the landscaping world?
A: After doing 3-4 years of solar powered mowing we saw that there wasn’t a national leader in authentic organic lawn care. It was a leadership gap we felt we could establish and build our brand around. Customers are starving for an effective organic service once they understand it’s an option.
Q: How do you accredit and educate the landscapers that join the franchise?
A: Most of our new owners don’t have a landscaping background. They are typically green entrepreneurs with a white-collar background. We primarily vet their authentic commitment to our principles and practices. From there we do an extensive week long training at our HQ followed by a 1-2 day on site training. Longer term, we constantly organize and encourage the collective knowledge of our owner group to develop best practices for delivering the best organic lawn care we can for our customers nationally. We believe that a combination of science and field learning lead to the best results. This year we are starting a program where after 2 years of doing organic lawn care, our owners can fly back to our HQ and work with our team and scientist from their locale to develop a fertilizer we will manufacturer that is optimal for their community’s soils and climate.
Q: What do you feel is the biggest challenge in getting homeowners to embrace and adopt organic lawn and landscape services?A: Awareness. Once the customer understands it’s an option, they want it.
Q: Any other inspiration you’d like to share for founding Clean Air Lawn Care?
A: Our owner group inspires me every day. We have exceptional people that own our locations. They are the ones that make the magic happen.
Q: Where do you see the company in terms of growth, demand and supply in 5 years?
A: We added 17 new territories in 2017 and we are targeting 25 for 2018. Our business is accelerating and I expect that to continue over the next 5 years. The customer is waking up.
Charlie & Kathleen Marder: PRFCT from the start!
From the beginning of their business in 1975, Charlie and Kathleen Marder have taken a stand on protecting land from pesticides while offering an alternative to “cookie cutter” landscape designs.
In Marder's property care departments, nursery and garden shop, they are aggressively committed to all-organic practices to this day. That is why the Marders have partnered on our #ProtectYourPet campaign to let animal lovers know pesticides are dangerous to your pet!
The Marders name is synonymous with stunning, healthy landscapes – you can kick the toxic chemical habit and still have a fabulous property, one that is safe for you and your pet. Thank you Marders for supporting our #ProtectYourPet Campaign! Help spread the word with a donation of any amount.
Lawns were essentially organic before World War II, after which they went downhill because of an excess of nitrogen petrochemicals and a massive PR campaign that made clover a public enemy. Clover is actually good for lawns.
– Charlie Marder to Hamptons Cottage and Garden
We found the PRFCT trees for your PRFCT landscape at Raemelton Tree Farm in Adamstown, MD. If you take the time and effort to manage your landscape chemical free, why would you want to start with plants already treated with them? And of course, organic plants grow better organically, so why not trees?
With over 300 tree species to choose from, there is bound to be a PRFCT tree to compliment your needs! Check out Raemelton’s 2018 Organic Tree Availability.
Raemelton's owner Steve Black started the farm in 2004 and from inception focused on sustainability and best management practices for pest control. By 2013, they created a field just for sustainability research and though it seemed outlandish this was their first step towards all-organic production. In January 2016 they became the first nursery in the country to offer USDA certified organic trees.
“Being first into the Organic landscape tree market meant that there was nobody to ask about the realities of organic production of ornamental trees. In the end we closed our eyes, gritted our teeth and jumped.”
Full Interview with Raemelton owner Steve Black
Q: How long have you been a grower and how did you come into the profession/industry?
A: I started Raemelton Farm in 2004 from scratch. I had decided to move on from my work in international affairs and going back to agriculture felt right. I grew up working on my dad’s horse farm in Ohio so it’s not as crazy a career move as it sounds. We bought the property in 2004 and put the first trees in the ground in the spring of 2005. The farm was a poorly maintained dairy operation so the soil was great but the infrastructure needed some TLC…and more than a few roll-off dumpsters!
Q: At what point in your career did you transition to organic and toxic-free?
A: From day one Raemelton has operated with more than a nod to sustainability and was a central element of the initial business plan. We instituted a real Integrated Pest Management program right off the bat. In addition to using every Best Management Practice currently available we have a robust program for researching and developing new tools, techniques, and strategies for pest management.
By 2013 things were moving along smoothly enough at the farm that we decided we might need to establish a special field just for sustainability research. We had in mind an area to test out REALLY outlandish innovative new production practices. As the thinking progressed it became clear that what we were moving toward was an actual organic field. Because of all our practices in the conventional fields…IPM, cover crops, and the use of compost, it was not that big a change to move to certified organic processes.
Q: What do you feel was the primary catalyst for that shift?
A: One of the nursery industry trade magazines ran an article about the future of organic ornamental plants just before we started thinking about it. Most of the article, and the quotes from experts and industry heavy hitters, all came down to two points. First, will any consumer really care if their new tree is certified Organic? Almost everybody reading this interview will laugh at that question! We assumed (hoped) that there would be a market for the trees. It seemed like the end consumers were ready for Organic ornamentals, even if the nursery industry wasn’t.
The second point in the article was more worrisome. Can you produce a tree in the same amount of time without sacrificing on any aesthetic standards? All the market research for organic fruits and vegetables says that people will pay a premium for organic if, and ONLY if it looks just like its conventional counterpart. An Organic ‘Charlie Brown’ tree will not work for our customers…certified or not.
The whole article implied that it was probably ‘impossible’ to do organic nursery production in a profitable way. One of the experts quoted in the article said that she didn’t think there was anybody ‘good enough’ to get certified. We had that quote blown up, printed big and hanging on the office wall for the whole three year transition period!
Being first into the Organic landscape tree market meant that there was nobody to ask about the realities of organic production of ornamental trees. In the end we closed our eyes, gritted our teeth and jumped.
Q: What do you think is the primary advantage of starting your organic landscape with clean plant material?
A: If you care enough to take the time and effort to manage your landscape using organic methods, why in the world would you start with plants already containing materials you would not allow to be used on your property?
We’re also selling what we don’t do to the environment to produce your trees. Today the production process is part of the product. People want to feel good about where, how, and by whom their purchases were produced. The certified Organic tree fills that need. People can have confidence that we didn’t create some dead zone nursery field just so they could have a pretty Black Gum tree in their front yard.
Q: Do you have a favorite tree you grow at Raemelton Farm?
A: We grow more than 300 tree species and cultivars so that’s a tough question. Really it changes from day to day and over the course of the year. Right now in winter I love the snake bark maples, like Acer pensylvanicum. Once we start to think about spring getting here I like the very early flowering plants like Japanese Apricot, Prunus mume, or Kintoki Cornel Dogwood, Cornus officinalis ‘Kintoki’. In the summer I enjoy the fruit trees. We have various things ripening over the summer so I can snack on Serviceberries early in the season, then Cherries and Peaches. Pawpaws and apples are tasty in the fall. We even have some female Date Plum, Diospiros lotus, which taste great after they’ve been through a frost or two. Fall is a really pretty time on the farm. The colors can be spectacular. From the awesome red of the Wildfire Black Gum to the rainbow leaves of the Persian Iron Wood, Parrotia persica.
Read Between the Lines of Your Pesticide Program
It’s the time of year when landscape contracts are headed your way and we think it’s important you know how to read between the lines. This sample is a landscape contract that was sent out this month in NY. If your landscaper follows a standard pesticide program, chances are yours will be similar.
Many states mandate that any chemical applied to your lawn is disclosed in your contract. This includes Minimum Risk Pesticides, sometimes called 25(b)’s, which Perfect Earth Project would say are okay to use. An example would be a biopesticide which is a naturally occurring substance or a microorganism that is applied to control pests.
But when it comes to synthetic lawn and landscape chemicals, do not turn a blind eye. The more you know, the better choices you can make to seek alternatives and keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Don’t fire your landscaper, talk to them. Find out if any of the “targets” are even issues in your lawn. We can help you talk to your landscaper about kicking the toxic synthetic chemical habit.
Just this one contract would mean exposure to probable carcinogens, and substances linked to neurotoxicity, endocrine disruption, neuromuscular effects, birth and reproductive effects, kidney and liver damage and canine lymphoma. They are toxic to pollinators, birds, fish and aquatic organisms and pollute our aquifers.
If your lawn can be just as beautiful without synthetic chemicals, why would you expose yourself to this?
You can download this .PDF to share with your family, friends, neighbors, school administrators and legislators.