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Garden Diary: September 24, 2018 - Yard Crew Weed Killer Disaster, and a Sign of Hope

My beautiful hibiscus, which was killed back to the ground by the freeze this past January, has finally put out its first bloom. What a beautiful site after the disaster I have been faced with since last Wednesday.

The yard crew for my apartment complex, which is an outside contractor, has not been doing its job this summer. I was patient, because of all the rain, but
finally, I complained to my manager that they had not trimmed or edged in my yard for months. I had been edging myself using a pair of scissors, but I couldn't really keep up. They would edge right to the corner where the sidewalk turns to go to my yard, then stop.

So he told them in no uncertain terms that they had to start edging and trimming in my yard, and their reply, which we both agree was probably out of spite, was to use industrial strength weed killer around my gardens, which poisons the soil for a year after it's used.

(click images to enlarge)

They knew exactly what they were doing. You can see in this picture that they started well past the large purple sweet potato patch, but did not spare the cannas or the red sweet potatoes planted under it.

I had several small Brugmansias (angel trumpets) planted all along the bed, which I had to dig out, rinse the roots, and pot into fresh soil to try to save them. Thank heaven I had just bought a new bag of potting soil. So far, they look o.k., but I don't know yet if they will live.

They continued all along the top bed, killing my lone Jerusalem artichoke and damaging all the other plants, including the sweet potatoes planted there. I had to wait a few days to see if all the sweet potatoes were affected, and when the new leaves came out, I could see they were.

This is how you can tell if weedkiller has gotten into the roots of a plant like sweet potatoes. The new growth comes out yellow and can come out deformed. Since I now know that the roots are poisoned, I can only dig them up and not eat them. I can't plant other crops there for a year, as I said above.

The one brugmansia, my Charles Grimaldi, that was in that bed looked o.k. for now, so I left it, but we'll see how it does. I may yet have to pull it up to try to save it.

They sprayed all around the banana plants, so I don't know what will happen to them. I know I can't eat the eddoe I have growing behind them, or use them to grow more next year, as I had planned.

They didn't spray along the left edge of the sidewalk, which still hasn't been edged, but they sprayed in front of the hibiscus bed, where I have my wandering jews and peacock ginger planted. This shows me that they were trying particularly to kill my plants, or they would have sprayed the other side of the sidewalk that needed edging.

As if all this wasn't bad enough, the yard is sloped, and the death is spreading downhill, killing everything slowly. There is no telling how far it will go. It may kill the entire front yard.

All I can do is to water as much as possible to try to dilute the poison that is in the soil. the more I water the top gardens, the more it runs down into the yard. It's a catch-22 situation.

They knew what they were doing, as evidenced by the fact that they didn't spray the large purple sweet potato bed, or the part where I had planted the Little Ruby alternanthera to grow as a ground cover. My manager agrees that they purposely targeted my flower beds.

I'm going to ask him if I can put up a chain across the yard to keep them from coming in again, with signs that say "No Mowing." I can buy a cheap weed eater and do the work myself from now on. I can't plant anything there for a year anyway, and I don't want them to do any more damage.

I wish the complex would buy its own yard equipment and just do a bit every day to keep it done. It might take a week to do the whole place, but it would be done properly. They won't, though. They really have no place to store the equipment, and there is a gang of yard equipment thieves plaguing Gainesville right now.

My only choice for planting food in that area is to plant GMO crops that aren't affected by the Roundup, but then what am I eating? There will be glyphosate in all my food. I will probably just overseed it with something to draw the poisons out of the soil, and then pull them up and toss them afterwards.

Just when you think it's safe to go back into the garden...

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