Kay Williams 2017

Kay Williams

Dear Master Gardener: I have been reading about glyphosate, and I am concerned that it might cause cancer. I like the product but I don’t want to take any chances with my health. What do you think?

Dear Nurse Pam: I take this subject very seriously. The Clemson fact sheet describes glyphosate (Roundup) [N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine] as a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide that kills weeds and is a crop desiccant, especially used to kill broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops. It was originally produced by the Monsanto Company for farmers to use to kill unwanted weeds and grasses. However, it has become popular with homeowners to use on their driveways and patios and in their yards to kill unwanted weeds. According to the World Health Organization, glyphosate is “probably” a carcinogen, but apparently there is not enough data to support the fact it is “definitely a carcinogen” that causes non-Hodgkin lymphoma. That being said, my ”long suffering husband” has had non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and it was not caused by using glyphosate. I am the only member of the family guilty of using Roundup. So, what is the answer? There is quite a difference between using a little bit of a product and using a lot. Farmers attend seminars on using chemicals in large areas before they are allowed to use massive amounts of any herbicide, and rightly so. Homeowners need to be well informed on the use of a product strong enough to kill anything, not only for their sake but for the safety of animals and wildlife. If you choose to use the product, read and follow all instructions, wear protective gear and err on the side of too little rather than too much. There was a sign in the laboratory where I used to work that read, “If all else fails, read the directions." When using any herbicides, insecticides or fertilizers, always read the directions.

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Dear Master Gardener: I feel like crying. My yard looks terrible. This unusually cold weather has killed everything in my yard; it looks like a disaster area. All my hard work has gone for naught. I might move to Florida.

Dear Scarlett: Calm down. The earth is still on its axis and “oh, well, tomorrow is another day.” It is just as cold in Florida, and they have hurricanes and pythons to boot. My camellias looked like they were destroyed but I was able to get enough blooms to make a small arrangement for a meeting yesterday. The leaves were still shiny and green so obviously the plant will survive to see another day. The plants in my yard that look the worst are my perennials, and they needed pruning anyway. We had a little respite a few days ago, and my husband and I did quite a bit of pruning of daises, lantanas and old-fashioned mums. You are supposed to clean up around daylilies this time of year but I chose to leave the dead leaves because we are going to have more cold weather. I did not prune my knockout roses even though they look bad. I did not want to expose any tender growth to the upcoming cold weather. Roses should be pruned on Valentine’s Day so I waited until then to prune them. We did have two warm days, and I went outside and did some weeding. I just couldn’t resist. Spring will come, and all will be well. Summer will come, and we will wish for the cold weather.

This column by Kay Williams (the Flower Lady) is designed to answer your gardening questions. Send questions to ktheflowerlady@gmail.com or to news@timesanddemocrat.com.

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