Learn greener gardening at a Langley seminar

Before dousing a dandelion with pesticide, think about this: dandelions provide nutritious meals to bees, and bees provide nutritious meals to people.

Plus, when the rain washes the pesticide away, the run-off gets swept, untreated, into storm drains which lead into fish-bearing streams.

“There are many natural alternatives to cosmetic pesticides that are not harmful to the environment,” said Taryn Hesketh, an Environmental coordinator with the Township.

It is partnering with the Langley Environmental Partners Society (LEPS) to present a Salmon Friendly Gardens Seminar.

The event is part of the Grow Healthy Grow Smart program, which encourages residents to think about alternatives to pesticides for cosmetic uses in their lawns and gardens.

The free Salmon Friendly Gardens Seminar is Saturday, March 8, 1-4:30pm, at the Township Civic Facility, 20338 65th Ave. Pre-registration is required by contacting 604-546-0338 or outreach@leps.bc.ca.

Guest speakers include Brian Minter of Minter Gardens, who will discuss organic ornamental gardening, and Andrea Bellamy, author of Sugar Snaps and Strawberries, who will talk about gourmet edible gardening. Invasive plant specialist Lisa Dreves will talk about invasive plant control. The Kwantlen Polytechnic University School of Horticulture will have its seed library catalogue on hand.

“You need a well-balanced garden,” said Kim Greenwood, special projects coordinator for LEPS.

She noted that, while people tend to want ornamental plants and flowers to bloom in their yards, it is the foliage that springs up naturally which provide the best benefits to the ecosystem.

According to Greenwood, many of the bees that provide the pollination required to grow the plants that humans eat are tiny, non-stinging insects that may not even be recognizable as bees. But their role in the environment has far-reaching effects.

“One in every three bites we take is provided by a bee and having dandelions make it easier for bees to forage,” she said. “For them, some ornamental flowers are like going to a fast food place for a burger, but dandelions provide them with a healthy meal. If you have variety in your garden, your bees are set. They have a buffet.”

In fact, the highly nutritious dandelions themselves can also be eaten – and enjoyed – by humans.

“Embrace nature and become innovative in managing your lawn and garden,” said Hesketh. “The result will be felt all the way out to our streams and watercourses. By avoiding cosmetic pesticides you can help the health of the salmon, bugs, and all the other creatures that are a valuable part of our ecosystem.”

The Salmon Friendly Gardens Seminar kicks off the Grow Healthy Grow Smart program, which will run throughout the spring and summer.

During special events and seminars, staff will encourage the reduced use of cosmetic pesticides and give away information booklets and grass seeds. Displays with take-home information will also be set up at various Township recreation facilities.

Visit tol.ca/growhealthygrowsmart for more information.

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