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Dive into Summer Pond Care

air date: July 19, 2014

Dive in to pond and fountain summertime care with Steve Kainer from Hill Country Water Gardens and Nursery.  On tour, Claudia Hubenthal’s stream and pond started with a garage sale inspiration. Daphne explains why pest control—organic or otherwise—can harm beneficial insects. Her plant of the week is native perennial snake herb, which attracts butterflies, not snakes! Trisha pops in with yummy, healthy, homemade popsicles.

Episode Segments

On Tour

Stream and Pond Design | Claudia and Ronnie Hubenthal

Claudia and Ronnie Hubenthal started their stream and ponds design even before they bought their house, thanks to a serendipitous find they pinned to their imagination.  Built by Hill Country Water Gardens & Nursery, mostly from the property’s stones, it’s a meditative, discovery destination at ground level, from above on their patio balcony, and even from indoors.

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Question of the Week

Why Not Pesticides

Are organic pesticides safe?

Although “pesticide” might conjure up chemical-focused insect killers, often people are less apprehensive about organic products. It’s vitally important to understand that any pesticide can kill indiscriminately.

The word “organic” lulls many people into a sense of complacency. But a fact that most people don’t realize is that organic pesticides are quite often more toxic than their synthetic counterparts. For example, rotenone, an acutely toxic pesticide, is derived from the roots of certain plants in the Leguminosaea, or bean family, so it is an organic product.

Neem oil is another example of an organic product that can be highly toxic if used improperly.

These organic pesticides definitely have their place in our anti-pest arsenal, but they should still be used judiciously and carefully, perhaps even more so than many synthetic products. When confronting garden pests, most commonly insects, first, be aware.

Perhaps your cilantro has bolted and is now covered in aphids. You may be tempted to spray it with pesticide to keep those aphids from moving onto your other plants. Or maybe, more eco-consciously, you think about simply removing and tossing the whole thing.

But before you do anything, check to see if there are any beneficial ladybugs present. Usually, aphid populations don’t hop from one plant to another indiscriminately, so there’s little to worry about there.

AND usually, a high population of aphids in the late spring, when cilantro is bolting, serves as prime feeding grounds for ladybugs and their larvae. You might even refer to a clump of aphid-infested plants as a ladybug nursery.

So before you act, check the situation closely, and doing nothing at all.

Another important thing to point out is that many pesticides are what are known as broad-spectrum, meaning that they kill many different insects, not just your particular target pest. Products may also drift in even the slightest wind, potentially wreaking havoc in your pond or a nearby stream. Fish, bees, butterflies, and birds are particularly susceptible to accidental drift of pesticides. So please, be very careful and consider just letting nature take its course.

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Plant of the Week

Snake Herb

Snake Herb

Dyschoriste linearis

This native perennial has delicate, hairy leaves and lovely petite, purple flowers that attract butterflies, not snakes. It's amazingly drought-tough and requires little water after establishment. You may see it listed as full sun, where it does great, but it's also very happy in shady spots, which can be trickier for many gardeners. The flowers stay tucked into the leaf axils, so you may barely notice them, but butterflies definitely will. Snake herb does spread a bit, making it great for areas in the garden that you may be leaving a little more natural.

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