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GARDENER:Act responsibly in garden, lawn care

THE COASTAL

March 30, 2007

As gardeners, none of us intends to waste irrigation water or to feed our oceans with nitrates or phosphates or anything else. We use fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, snail baits and other products to keep our lawns and shrubs healthy. For many of us, our gardeners use these products on our behalf; we may not even know what, when or how they are used. Nonetheless, pesticides are applied in our gardens, not in Upper Newport Bay or Crystal Cove State Park.

Unfortunately, oceans and bays are where many of these products end up, carried by runoff water from our landscapes.

Early in the morning, a simple electric controller opens a valve. Water rushes through plastic underground pipes, sprays out of little nozzles and onto our plants. But a portion of that early morning water runs across our landscapes, over our curbs and eventually into our ocean, carrying with it a daily load of fertilizers, pesticides, bacteria, pet feces, heavy metals and other pollutants.

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The Newport Coast development alone releases an estimated 24 million gallons of contaminated runoff into our protected marine habitats each month.

It's a very serious issue. As coastal gardeners it is our responsibility to take action. It's time for us to do the right thing.

There are some easy steps that we can take to reduce our impact on the coastal environment. A few of them are obvious — irrigation timing, station cycling, simple changes to sprinkler patterns, proper use of fertilizers, mulching, using ocean-friendly products and cleaning up pet feces. But there may be some less familiar high-tech solutions that we can also incorporate — like smart-irrigation timers and super-efficient sprinkler heads. In next Friday's column I'll suggest a few easy steps that we can all take to curb landscape runoff and coastal pollution.

By next week, another 60,000 gallons of landscape water and pollutants will have gone into the ocean — from the "stream" at Buck Gully.

ASK RON

I have been having problems with nematodes for several years. They suck the life out of my impatiens. How do I get rid of them? And if I succeed, will I also kill the good ones?

SUSIE SAMPSON

Newport Beach

Nematodes are one of the most common, yet frequently overlooked, garden pests, because they are very small and feed on plant roots.

Nematodes are a very complex issue, but one of the best things every gardener should do is maintain high levels of organic matter in the soil. The higher the organic matter, the more likely that organisms antagonistic to harmful nematodes will develop. Nematode controls also include summer solarization of the soil, summer fallowing, weed control and growing an alternating crop of African marigolds. To learn more about managing this pest in a garden, go to www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7489.html .


your toughest gardening questions, and the expert nursery staff at Roger's Gardens will come up with an answer. Please include your name, phone number and city, and limit queries to 30 words or fewer. E-mail stumpthegardener @rogersgardens.com, or send to Plant Talk at Roger's Gardens, 2301 San Joaquin Hills Road, Corona del Mar, CA 92625.

  • ASK RON


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