A GROWING CONCERN: Amazing innovations for gardening

TODAY WE ARE at the beginning of an extremely hectic, labor-intensive, busy, busy time for all gardeners and horticulturalists as “April showers” will be producing abundant “May flowers” along with a plethora of weeds and bugs.

Your lawn will be growing faster than the weeds, though.

But since today is a very reverent day, a time to reflect with family and friends and to ponder one’s many blessings, I will not load you down with the traditional April to-do list.

That baker’s dozen of intensive jobs will come next week.

On this special day, let me share with you three amazing innovations coming to the gardening world in the next year to 18 months that will greatly lessen all of our gardening chores and stress.

The first is from America’s oldest bird seed company, Wagner’s, founded in 1894, which boasts a rich history of producing and selling premium wild bird food products.

Now, some of you will not like this, but they have teamed up with Monsanto, which produces a wide range of agricultural products, one of which I boast about in all of my classes. It’s an enzyme that attaches itself to the protein molecule and prevents the object from turning into a soft carbohydrate (i.e. germination).

Wagner’s is coating its bird seed with this product, so, when consumed by birds, there will not be the numerous seeds that pass through a bird’s digestive system resulting in germinating all over your yard, the neighbor’s yard, or our own waterways and stream beds (which is a huge problem throughout the Peninsula).

Release date is set for early November of 2018.

Second, and one that I will really appreciate, is a spin-off product from our military.

During the Vietnam War it was reported that Super Glue was proven valuable to surgeons for stopping bleeding by closing wounds.

The fundamental ingredient is cyanoacrylate, truly a “super glue”! Instead of Super Glue, the military has developed specific formulas of cyanoacrylate precisely for medical use, sealing trauma wounds.

One of the leading horticulture schools in America, and my parents’ alma mater, Cornell University, has reported amazing results from preliminary tests on a “pruning glue.”

Researchers caution that it seems to work only on limbs and branches 2 inches in diameter or less, and on growth 3 years or younger; but still, as for me, one who thinks pruning is the best thing I do … yee-haw!

Even though I am good, I make 2,000 to 3,000 cuts a day, so undoubtedly five, six or even 11 times of those will be a big oops.

The prospect of this new product will be to totally repair the mistake, not having to wait a few years as I have been doing.

Glue it back on.

It is being reported that this product will be very costly, but one just doesn’t make that many shape-altering mistakes when pruning. Cornell reports marketability by 2020. I’m all in.

And finally, and I saved the best for last, seeing that we all live in the Pacific Northwest (and everyone is going to just love this one).

The nation’s leading gene editing school, MIT, has been working on a variety of agricultural problems as it relates to worldwide crop loss due to pestilence and insects.

One product that seems to be on track for USDA approval in the next year is slugs.

Yes, slugs. And you will be buying them by the bushel load.

MIT has gene altered chromosomes from second-stage larva of Dolerus napaeus, a species of insect that consumes only horsetail (i.e. equisetum), splicing this insect’s chromosome into slugs. This replaces the chromosomal drive to eat organic material with that of the insect Dolerus napaeus.

The results? Slugs that eat only horsetail. It really does not get any better, since slug eggs are laid by the hundreds, maturing very easily. Cost is reported to be in the “normal biological control” range of prices.

Just like buying lady bugs or mason bees, you’ll be able to buy horsetail-eating slug warriors.

I just love science.

And if you really appreciate these scientific discoveries, contact me, because I can arrange a sale of beautiful swamp land right next to my family cottage in Northern Wisconsin for only $500 an acre.

Happy April 1st!

Do enjoy this time with your family because next week it is back to work.

Happy Easter.


Andrew May is an ornamental horticulturist who dreams of having Clallam and Jefferson counties nationally recognized as “Flower Peninsula USA.” Send him questions c/o Peninsula Daily News, P.O. Box 1330, Port Angeles, WA 98362, or email [email protected] dailynews.com (subject line: Andrew May).

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