This week, Joe Lamp’l shares how to know the mulch you are buying is free of hazardous material, like arsenic. Joe also interviews the grower of the world’s largest pumpkin for 2008. This story has great drama and you don’t want to miss it! And, from extreme gardener, to just fanatic, we hear some amusing accounts of what some people do, all for the love of gardening.
Hi, it’s Joe Lamp’l and welcome to Growing a Greener World. This is a show for people who love to garden and spend time outdoors, and who really care about environmental stewardship.
Well, last week we learned about what to look out for when buying mulch in bulk. This week, we talk about an important certification program that lets you know the mulch and soil you are buying is free of unacceptable materials. Next we’ll interview Steve Connolly. He was tracking to grow the world’s largest pumpkin for 2008. Did he do it? The story has all the makings of a suspense thriller, and we’ve got him to tell us what happened. And from extreme gardener, to just obsessed gardener, we’ll hear the confessions from a few of our own that you won’t want to miss. We’ll also include a valuable tip and of course, take your questions. Our phone line is always open so leave a comment at 206.337.0375 or email us at email@example.com.
This week’s tip comes from an email question from Debbie in St. Louis:
Hey Joe, This year I installed a vegetable garden and I’ve read a lot about how important mulch is. But I’m concerned that the mulch I’m using might contain something other than ground bark, such as pressure treated wood. Is there a way I can be sure the mulch I’m using is safe for my garden and my family?
Great question Debbie, and the answer is yes, you can be sure, if you’re using it by the bag, rather than in bulk. This was such an important issue for me personally, in 2007; I accepted the role as spokesperson for The Mulch and Soil Council. And after hearing my answer, you’ll know why I feel so strongly about their program.
First let me explain where you are most at risk. As I addressed last week, If you buy mulch by the truckload or in bulk, you should do what ever is necessary to make sure you feel comfortable that the mulch is free of any unacceptable material such as arsenic from pressure treated wood.
But today, I want to address bagged mulch and soil. Thanks to years of work by the Mulch and Soil Council, industry standards have been adopted that prohibit the use of CCA-treated wood in all consumer mulch and soil products. The Council also developed a Product Certification program that is in use by many retailers to help consumers identify those products that comply with these industry standards. So now, you and I have a way of knowing which products are free of unapproved or unacceptable materials by looking for the associated MSC Certified label on bagged mulch and soil that meet these standards. Currently, there are about 250 products certified by the council.
For more information, you can visit the MSC website at mulch and soil council.org. You can also learn more and see the MSC certification logo on our website. You’ll find it in the articles tab, under organic gardening.
Extreme Gardening Produces Giant Pumpkins
Just like gardeners, the act of gardening can take on many forms. As you and I fret over important backyard challenges such as why our hydrangeas aren’t blooming or how come that tomato just won’t ripen fast enough, others are dealing with much bigger issues. Scattered across the country, there are a few thousand ‘extreme gardeners’ that methodically plod through the art and science of competing to grow the world’s largest pumpkin each year.
Steve Connolly, of Sharon, Massachusetts is one such gardener. Soft-spoken mechanical engineer by day, Giant Pumpkin Growing Super Hero by night and weekends, Steve’s been in the news a lot lately. With just a few weeks before the big weigh-off, word was getting around that this might be the all time mother of all pumpkins! Until now, the world record, set by Joe Jutras in 2007 weighed in at an astounding 1698 pounds and shattering the previous record of 1502 pounds set in just the previous year. With more than a week to go, Steve’s pumpkin appeared to be approaching 1900 pounds! Although the final, official weight would not be known for more than a week, all eyes and ears were on this “Beast from the East” as it had been affectionately dubbed. The big day of Oct 11 has come and gone and I managed to catch up with Steve shortly after that to hear how things turned out. …
Interview with Steve Connolly (not transcribed)
But that doesn’t account for the whole story. Many growers start with the same seed, but there is only one winner. And that’s where the gardener comes into play. Steve the businessman and competitor is already thinking ahead. The seed for next year is now safely stored away. But according to Steve; “It’s the gardener in him that still has another trick up his sleeve” and just possibly, the key to the 2009 world record pumpkin.
So although Steve Connolly did grow the largest Pumpkin in the world for 2008, that tiny imperfection on weigh in day was a technicality that required the posting of an asterisks by his name in the record books. Steve’s already thinking about 2009 and it sounds like he seems pretty confident about it to!
For more on this story, check out our website for the complete article. The title is Extreme Gardening produces Giant Pumpkin. You’ll find it in the articles link under Seasonal Gardening. While you’re there, take some time to look around and sign up for the newsletter.
Several weeks ago I wrote a piece in my syndicated column that talked about the various ways we know we’ve crossed the line into gardening obsession. I also invited readers to contribute their own ideas. All they had to do was finish that sentence that started with;
“You know you’re a gardening addict when”…
For example, at the time of that article I was making a move from Georgia to NC. In fact it was that move that reminded me just how fanatical I was about my gardening and was the inspiration for this series of responses.
If you’ve ever moved before, you can imagine, it’s hard enough deciding what to pack within the house, but as gardeners, we have a whole new set of decisions to make. So with that in mind, I offered up the first confession of an obsessed gardener…
You know you’re a gardener when… you buy $20 plastic totes to haul the compost and place the household items in garbage bags. It’s true! Readers responded with many delightful examples, some which had me laughing out loud.
The following phrase sums it up: “You know you’re a gardening addict when…you park your brand new car on the street for three months so that a single volunteer tomato plant growing in your driveway is allowed to flourish undisturbed. Now that’s my kind of gardener!
Here are a few more, submitted from readers across the country:
You know you’re a gardening addict when…
“The family has to eat all their meals in the garden with you, just to be able to have a family meal together.” Phyllis Y.
“Those volunteer plants from self sowing plants pop up where they are not supposed to be… they all must be placed somewhere in the yard…. even if there are 200 of them!” Sherry C.
“You move and have to borrow a 53 foot long 18 wheeler to bring the 1,200+ 1 gallon, 2 gallon and larger pots of the portions of the plants you dug from your garden. Then you have to rent a 16 foot cube van to bring the ones that would not fit into the 18 wheeler.” Bob & Judi B.
“You go out to eat at a restaurant and you stop to pull weeds on the way in the door.” Barney C.
“It’s early December in northern Illinois, and you’re planting the last of your spring bulbs, by flashlight, as the first flakes of what will turn out to be an eight-inch snowfall by morning begin to float down from the darkening sky.” Kathy M.
“You have worms and you love to tell everyone about them!” Carol M.
“The first thing you want to check on when getting out of the car from vacation is your newest plantings. Such fun!” pdb
“ You rescue a 6 inch praying mantis from the supermarket entranceway while patrons look on in disbelief, rush home with it, place it in the garden, AND THEN return to the store to shop for groceries, i.e.: mantis before groceries; Barbara S.
“When the first thing you do in the morning is look outside to see if there are any new blooms…and that’s before my morning coffee!” Pat B.
“You EXPECT not to be able to stand up at the end of a day in the garden.”
“You have to eat hamburger all week because you caught a sale at the nursery B4 getting the groceries.” Jill D.
“You are outside in the rain mixing up miracle gro in a watering can and applying it when it is raining as you know that is the best time to fertilize—the neighbors think you are crazy!” Joy P.D
And finally…you know you’re a gardening addict when… “You create a garden wherever you go.” Barbara C.
Please keep those observations coming. I think it would make for another fun segment someday soon. Send me your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or better yet, call our comment line and leave it as a recorded message so we can play it on the show. That number is 206.337.0375.
This podcast is produced by The joe gardener® Media Network.
You can access the show notes from previous shows on our website here. You can also order a personally autographed copy of my latest book, The Green Gardener’s Guide and don’t forget to check out my blog; Compost Confidential.
Thanks for listening! This is Joe Lamp’l and I’ll see you back here next time for more Growing a Greener World.