GoGreen contributes to a Boston Globe article about healthy organic lawns!

GoGreen 2014

The winter has been a challenge for some of us, and I’m sure there will be challenges ahead before we are through with the season. For me, the aggravation of bone chilling cold and the unrelenting torment of raw and merciless inclemency is always off set by the shear beauty of the winter landscape and what the Danes call Hygge - very loosely translated, it’s the feeling of warm comfort in body and soul found by the fire when you are with friends and family.

I appreciate the winter.  I love it actually, but every year around this time I start getting excited for the warmer seasons; the days are getting longer and the sun is moving into it’s springtime locale. The witch hazel will be blooming in just a couple weeks and it won’t be long after that when we’ll see the honeybees working in the croci and snow drops.

As I get older (45 this month) I feel like I’m becoming more and more attuned to the seasons and the moods and machinations that occur within them. I’m worried about the future, the toll that our industrial complex takes on our ecosystems and the incredible challenges that the children I love, and all children, will face in the coming years and beyond. I want to do more. As an individual I will try to do what I can - be less dependent on fossil fuels, buy less stuff, shop and eat locally, and use my singular voice in concert with the many other single voices in my community to affect change.

My desire for change is not new. Growing up in a very openminded family and then attending Antioch College has infused me with a feeling of purpose to strive for the betterment of our world. I hate that the monarchs butterflies are in rapid decline, that bees and bat colonies are collapsing and that our oceans are growing inhospitable to diversity. I think that if we don’t change our ways now, we will lose a chance to change the trajectory of our future.

We cannot possibly fix everything, but if we own this plight, and challenge ourselves to act, we can proceed with the idea that we are bound in a dilemma whose future form can change (and will change inevitably) depending on how we act today.

The first pleasant days of spring come out like a squirrel and go in again. Henry David Thoreau March 7th, 1855

The Evil Black Swallow-Wort

You may know this invasive vine from seeing its sweet little flower along neighborhood fences. Do not, repeat, do not, for one second, think that it is as sweet as it looks. Black swallow wart is right up there with the wetland destroying Phragmites austrailis and the voracious snakehead fish in its potential for disrupting local habitat. Not only does it take over and snuff out native plant species but, because of it’s similarity to milkweed, Monarch butterflies are being tricked into laying their eggs in the pods, which are not large enough to sustain the Monarch’s larval stage. As if Monarchs didn’t have enough to deal with!

To learn More about the the Cambridge Pod Patrol efforts to quell the scourge Click HERE and HERE.

To Learn More About the species and it’s disastrous effects Click HERE

Ecological Landscaping Association Conference - Springfield, MA March 2011

There were a lot of great contributors. I made it to three speakers:

Ecological Choices: Product Substitutions - Ben Daniels from Ultimate Organics.

A few pointers…

Pest Deterents:

Hot Pepper Wax - Repels aphids, spider mites, thrips, leaf miners, whiteflies, lace bugs, and leafhoppers from fruits and vegetables including: citrus fruits, root and tuber vegetables, bulb vegetables, leafy vegetables, brassica (cole) leafy vegetables, legume vegetables, fruiting vegetables and cucurbit vegetables. It can also be used on all indoor and outdoor ornamental plants. Also effective on repelling varment

Cedar Oil - Repels unwanted insects from establishing. Kills when sprayed directly on the insect. So be careful with our bee friends!

Castor Oil - Great for repelling lawn varmints, especially moles and voles.

Peppermint Oil (Not Extract) - An insect repellent, yet a friend to nectar eaters like honey bees. The flower produces lots of nectar, and makes a great source for food for some pollinators!

Garlic Juice Extract - Great mosquito repellent as well as a significant source of organic nitrogen.

Diotomaceous Earth - When spread out on a dry area it will remove the waxy coating on the insect exoskeleton causing dehydration and death. Great for crawling insects.

Borax - When mixed with propylene glycol and injected into wood it will kill termites and other damaging insects

Horticultural Vinegar - A great spot weed killer

d-limonene - Spot weed killer derived from orange peels

The next speaker I attended was Bernadette Giblin, who totally shares our philosophy about turf management - Organic Lawns and landscapes are essential moving forward. She’s amazing - She started her own landscape company, Safeground Organic Landcare from the ground up, while raising kids as a single mom. What an inspiration! She is helping push one of the most destructive and pollutive industries toward sane solutions.  A very active social entrepreneur, Bernadette is working hard everyday to fight off the big polluters who spend billions convincing the public that pesticides and petrochemicals are ok for the environment, our kids and pets. She truly is a hero! 


Ellen Sousa - Pollinator Friendly Landscaping

Pollinators are a ‘keystone’ species to the foodweb, meaning they are essential in maintaining the balance of life on the planet. Many people understand about the role that bees play in pollinating, but few think beyond that, and fewer still understand how important pollinators are. There are thousands of different pollinator species that include bees, flys, moths, butterflies, wasps and even pesky gnats. Many migrating species of birds are responsible for seed dispersal over wider areas of the globe. The mastodon and other mega-fauna are said to be responsible for the success of the avocado trees throughout the west.

Thank goodness for people like Ellen Sousa who have devouted huge amounts of time trying to find the cause of the devastating population declines connected to Sudden Colony Collapse and other mysterious and not so mysterious causes of the general population decline among these essential creatures.

Pollinator  decline can be linked mostly to three things: Pesticides, habitat loss, and introduction of exotic species.

What can we do?

Create gardens that have flowers that attract Pollinator Species (check out pollinator.org and plug in your zip code)

Commit to never using dangerous and toxic pesticides that kill beneficial organisms.

Leave part of your property messy over the winter. Many pollinators hibernate in decaying leaf litter,flower stalks and fallen and rotting branches.

Plant wide swaths of single bloom flowers, many insects are near sighted and also can’t negotiate dense blooms.

Install a bee wall for burrowing and nesting bees like the mason bee. They make beautiful art projects. Put a rock in your birdbath so insects may drink. Make a habitat container with moss and lichens.

Plant violets, mountain mint, little blue stem,wild cherry, dogwood, service berry,viburnum, spice bush and wild blue lupine to name a few.

And always, ALWAYS bring the kids!



I attended the ELA. conference last week with my friend Peggy from Greenhalgh Garden.

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Mike D

Mike D