We live in a less-than-perfect world — at least from our human point of view. There are bugs in the garden, ants in the house, fungus in the bathroom, dirt on the windows, colorless walls, diseases in the cabbage patch, mice in the shed, birds eating our fruit, plants that don’t thrive as we would like them to and weeds growing between the cracks in the sidewalk. And we don’t like it. Not only do we not like it, we have the wherewithal to do something about it and so we wage war.
In our efforts to kill one pest and control the next, many gardeners accumulate an arsenal of pesticides and fertilizers. Pesticides include all products used to control pests whether plant or animal. They are so convenient. A spray here and a pile of bait there and our problems are solved or at least reduced.
Besides the weapons we so eagerly seek out, we may have a hidden stash that we don’t even realize we have. Pesticides are used to prevent spoilage of food, mildew on paint and wallpaper, decay of building materials and mold in cosmetics. They are part of cleaning products, too.
We may have several shelves full of such hazardous products that we would like to get rid of, but tossing them in the garbage isn’t the best solution. Treat such products with a healthy respect.
Use, store and dispose of pesticides, herbicides and insecticides according to label restrictions and to laws designed to protect the user and the environment to avoid hazards. Store such products in a safe area, keeping them away from pets and children and where temperature fluctuations won’t reduce their effectiveness.
Reduce the use of pesticide sprays. Mechanical control methods may be as effective or better than sprays. Shop for products that have little negative impact on the environment. Avoid products that do not degrade naturally or that accumulate in the food chain. Choose products that have little effect on beneficial insects or predators.
Spray wisely. Timing is very important in insect control and correct timing of sprays will eliminate the need for many pesticides. Follow an Integrated Pest Management program. Not all pests require control and some insects are actually beneficial. Healthy plants tolerate some damage before controls are necessary. Keep plants healthy by fertilizing and watering correctly, choose resistant varieties, and use mulches to control weeds. Well-drained soils rich in organic matter produce plants that show few symptoms.
Don’t purchase more of a pesticide than is needed. Purchase only the amount that will be used within one or two growing seasons. A little goes a long way and you may only use a tablespoon or two at a time. Saving a few cents per ounce on a large bottle may be false economy if you only use a pint of the spray and waste the rest. Long-term storage also reduces product effectiveness and containers may be broken or spilled.
Pesticide storage can be difficult. Many pesticides must be stored above freezing temperatures, but not near food or in occupied dwellings. Garages and garden sheds are likely to freeze and storing inside the home is not advisable because of leakage or other hazards.
Read and follow all label directions when using pesticides. This protects both the environment and the user. The user is responsible for the safe application and disposal of any pesticide.
Even with the best of intentions there is generally some pesticide left over. If it is impossible for you to use the chemical according to label directions, consider letting others use the product. Never remove the product from its original packaging or put into other containers. If you have no need to use the product, consider giving it to another responsible pesticide applicator.
At some point, pesticides reach the end of their useful life and it is time to dispose of them. Look on the label to find the best method of disposal. Usual generic instructions include directions about keeping the product away from water and prohibit disposal by burning or other unapproved methods. Never dispose of pesticides by dumping them on the soil, down the drain or into storm drains.
The obvious best solution is to take it to a qualified hazardous waste disposal facility. This weekend, Tooele County Health Department is hosting a community hazardous waste disposal day. For more information, visit the website at tooelehealth.org or call 277-2440.
At other times of the year, the health department recommends the following disposal methods:
Dispose of water-based paint by removing the lid from the can, allow it to dry out completely and disposing of it in your regular trash.
Dispose of left-over prescription drugs in metal collection bins at the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office, 47 S. Main St. in Tooele, Grantsville City Offices, 429 E. Main St. in Grantsville or the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office at 920 E. Wendover Blvd. in Wendover. Bins will be emptied by a law enforcement officer and contents will be burned.
Take used oil to collection centers.
Dispose of compact (only) fluorescent bulbs and all alkaline batteries, power tool batteries and lawn mower batteries at Home Depot, 222 E. 2400 North in Tooele.