July 28, 2008 at 8:34AM
by Alexandra Zissu
My organic babe is no longer the only child on her father's side of the family. She's now, at the ripe age of two and a half, the oldest cousin. Her new playmate arrived late last week and we spent the weekend visiting and cooing over him. She's quite smitten.
His parents, like most new parents, are becoming more and more interested in all things green. I have tried not to butt in too much, or be too obnoxious with unsolicited advice (there's nothing worse) but rather to remain available as a resource should they want to come to me. I admit that I have failed on a few occasions. Like the time I offered my services in response to a baby shower registry list they emailed around. They were quite lovely about it though, and their nursery now contains an organic crib mattress so it was a win-win situation for the baby. And it was great to be with them on site this weekend, talking about the specifics of organic versus natural chicken as we looked in their freezer, and chatting about how best to sterilize the glass canning jars they'll use to store pumped breastmilk.
I did mouth off uninvited once over the course of the weekend. I saw a big thing of Roundup in their foyer and spoke before I thought. I don't even know if it belonged to them (their building has two apartments). I thought better after I blurted out that they needed to find a better product. But no one seemed to mind. Click here for more information on why not to use Roundup.
The thing is, I'm no gardener. I didn't have a readily available solution to suggest. As a native and current New Yorker, I have never had land to "scape." My mother, however, is an avid and quite excellent weekend gardener so I have learned some at her heels. She has been hard pressed to give up things like Roundup as I've become more and more green and have asked her to. She wants to use better, more organic products, but the options she (or I) have researched haven't exactly been fabulous in the results department. And that is really difficult. When I ask/suggest/demand that my loved ones use better cleaning products, for example, I can readily offer very effective replacements. Not so with the Roundup.
I sent - via email - the following alternative suggestions to the new father. But I know in my heart of hearts these might not be acceptable to him or to plenty of other people with lawns to care for because they're either insanely time consuming or they don't work very well.
1. Hand pull weeds.
3. Spray with a (white) vinegar solution
The reason I know all too well that these aren't necessarily going to be met with joy and open arms is that I have spent many, many hours this summer hunched over, uncomfortable, hand pulling weeds from my aforementioned mother's flagstone terrace in an effort to put my money where my mouth is, but also to keep her from cursing the vinegar spray she has been trying to embrace. Thankfully my daughter thinks this is a very fun game and yanks the suckers out with me.
I do know that people who are pressed for time - say, parents of a newborn -- might not have the luxury of three hours to contort and pluck dandelions, ill-placed saplings, and more. This is the very population likely to continue to use Roundup, when of course it's also the very population that is most vulnerable.
My suggestion to people who will use it no matter what is to do so very sparingly, and only ever on wind-free days. Mist can travel. Far. Windows anywhere near the greenery, especially nursery and playroom windows, should be shut tight on spray days. Shoes should be removed before entering the house in general, but especially after an herbicide application so no residue will be tracked inside.
Anyone out there have good Roundup alternative suggestions? I'm clearly in the market.
Also, maybe I'm a maverick but what's so wrong with weeds!?