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Take Two Aspirin And Meet Me In The Garden
updated: Aug 16, 2009, 12:00 AM

Thoughts From the Garden of Ed

Take Two Aspirin And Meet Me In The Garden
by Billy Goodnick


Quick, what did you think of?

An aspirin, right? That discoidal chalky white pill we used to take for a headache. Oh, how I long for the simpler days, before non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like acetomehymphrryommm and ibuphlogesterin and motrihydrastinase and, and Red-Hot Chili pads, or whatever.

So why did I, a landscape architect and writer, recently receive an oversized, overstuffed envelope from Bayer complete with a bright blue USB memory stick? It's because I belong to the Garden Writers Association and Bayer's PR people got their hands on GWA's mailing list.

"Huh?" you eloquently ask. "Do garden writers get really bad headaches? And how do you swallow a flash drive?"
Must be all those incomprehensible botanical names they cram into their brains, like rush hour commuters on a Tokyo subway.

Hardly. We're a tough lot. I received that shiny little techno-toy because Bayer had thoughtfully loaded it with ready-to-print happy, happy articles about their arsenal of yard-care products.

What, you didn't know? Bayer climbed out of your medicine cabinet years ago and has expanded its global reach from A (A1CNow+? for glucose monitoring) to Y (something called Yaz, involved with women's health care). I'm hoping there are a few people locked in a conference room trying to come up with a Z product-seems weird to let that slip by.

Anyway, I recently had one of those alignment-of-the-planets moments when I walked into the former Long's at Five-Points shopping center. I'm still having trouble calling it CVS, since I have no idea what that stands for. Just past the check-out line, a row of garden care products was looking me straight in the eyes and wafting right up my nose. One very sensitive woman dashed past,
her face buried in her sleeve, complaining about the stench-she probably just has a high sensitivity.

It used to be that a pharmacy was a pharmacy and other than a few sundry items and candy bars, you knew what you'd find there. Now, every Walgreens, Long's, Rite-Aid, etc. is a one-stop mini-mall. From flip-flops to floss, pills to patio furniture, niacin to notebook paper, ester-C to CDs, it's all there.

And, as was evident on my last visit, we can also pop in to pick up a gallon of stuff so toxic that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation wouldn't permit Bayer to market their Systemic Rose & Flower Care in that state. The active ingredient is a 2.9% solution of tebuconazole. You can read the rejection of their application here. Something about the "toxicological properties of tebuconazole (especially those that would potentially impact reproduction and development)."

I'm not here to pick on any one drug store or merchant. They are trying to provide convenience and what they believe their customers need. What better opportunity for impulse purchases than to have someone shopping for bunion relief saunter past the garden aisle. And I'll give them their props for also having some very green products right alongside their jugs of multi-syllabic toxic waste. Sluggo® is a snail killer that uses iron phosphate, a helpful plant nutrient, as its active ingredient. It's safe around humans, kids (yes, I know, they're sometimes classified as humans too) and pets.

I was encouraged to see insecticides containing Spinosad, which their website calls "a relatively new insect killer that was discovered from soil in an abandoned rum distillery in 1982."
Hell yes! Put on a little Jimmy Buffet and turn me loose in the garden.

Spinosad can be used on outdoor ornamentals, lawns, vegetables and fruit trees, to control caterpillars, thrips, leafminers, borers, fruit flies, and more. The stuff does not persist in the environment and is classified as an organic substance by the USDA.

I have to thank Bayer for giving me something to write about this week and for the coolio memory stick that I carry in my pocket. I've dumped all the propaganda that came on the device and now have an extra gig of storage to accidentally run through the washing machine. Thanks Bayer.

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Billy Goodnick is a nice guy who knows a lot about plants and garden stuff.


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