Monday, February 20, 2012

Revisiting the Master Gardener

I was thinking of the Master Gardener I met again today, whom I am now calling, "Ollie Everyman."

"Ollie" is the name I will now use when I refer to someone who has taken the OSU Master Gardener program, or someone that subscribes to the ludicrous notions of using petro-chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or any other -icides. Nearly anyone can become, "Ollie" at a moments notice.

So, while talking the other day, Ollie told me to spray my trees with copper sulfate because it is 'relatively' benign and it would kill the epiphytes on my plum and apple trees, "After all, every spot the epiphytes are is another spot the tree can't bud."


While the internet isn't perfect, information about Copper Sulfate hardly benign. Wikipedia has this to say about toxic effects of Copper Sulfate.

Toxicological effects

Copper sulfate is an irritant.[22] The usual routes by which humans can receive toxic exposure to copper sulfate are through eye or skin contact, as well as by inhaling powders and dusts.[23] Skin contact may result in itching or eczema.[24] Eye contact with copper sulfate can cause conjunctivitis, inflammation of the eyelid lining, ulceration, and clouding of the cornea.[25]

Upon acute oral exposure, copper sulfate is only moderately toxic.[26] According to studies, the lowest dose of copper sulfate that had a toxic impact on humans is 11 mg/kg.[27] Because of its irritating effect on the gastrointestinal tract, vomiting is automatically triggered in case of the ingestion of copper sulfate. However, if copper sulfate is retained in the stomach, the symptoms can be severe. After 1–12 grams of copper sulfate are swallowed, such poisoning signs may occur as a metallic taste in the mouth, burning pain in the chest, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, discontinued urination, which leads to yellowing of the skin. In case of copper sulfate poisoning, injury to the brain, stomach, liver, or kidneys may also occur.[25]
Seems to me that is hardly benign, and if I am spraying this in the air it is going to get into my lungs! What a crazy nightmare, being taught to intentional poison myself so I can have extra bud space on a tree that is already giving me plenty of food!

Well, currently it is legal to poison yourself over a long period of time to get rid of a naturally occurring epiphytes, let me point out that the epiphyte has numerous uses around the home.

Usnea, the "Old Man's Beard" is a fungus that has been in use for over 1000 years medically. It is a potent antibiotic, and anti-fungal agent. It's high in Vitamin C & completely edible. It can be plucked off the tree and used as gauze to treat surface wounds when modern antibiotics and sterile gauze padding are not available. There are other medical uses and those are beyond the scope of this article. This is about how silly humans are. :p

Seems to me, I would rather NOT poison myself, and keep another edible here on the property that also has multiple uses, looks nice too.However, it also dawned on me that spraying this anti-fungal spray of copper sulfate would kill the fungus in the soil that is NEEDED to keep trees healthy. Trees have a very important relationship with soil fungi to the point of it being in a symbiotic relationship with nearly, if not every single tree in a forest.

In fact, the lack of proper fungi in the soil is what causes Blight, a fact gardeners & foresters have known this since before Ralph Waldo Emerson, so it is beyond me why anyone would want to use a chemical like this when there is no logical reason to. What was Ollie thinking? Maybe Ollie just doesn't realize.

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