Converting back to a green life, one week (and nap time) at a time

Week # 20 – Losing the Battle, Winning the War

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May 24 2014

I learned this week that I was unsuccessful in a job selection process I had participated in. I made it through a grueling interview (see The Hours), and after over a month of not hearing anything I sent an e-mail to HR to see what the status was. And I got the lovely little “thank you for applying but” letter.

Part of me was disappointed that I didn’t have the opportunity to participate in the next step in the process, while part of me is relieved that it’s over . I didn’t have a good feeling coming out of the interview, and to be honest, after the exam, interview, and a year and a half of acting assignments in the position, I don’t think I really want it any way. I wanted the experience of going through the selection process, and that’s what I got. I am looking forward to sitting down with the board to see where I can improve.

I spent part of this week and weekend applying for other jobs like crazy, before my current job sends me over the edge. I feel like I’m losing the job search battle, but as my husband always says, sometimes you need to throw a lot of mud at the wall, and some of it will eventually stick.

Speaking of mud, and battles, for the past few years I’ve been doing battle with a rather large and annoying crop of Japanese Knotweed in our back yard. Previous years I had just cut it back as best I could, but it kept coming back. That is what it does best apparently. The plant is an invasive species which grows readily just about anywhere, from a tiny piece of plant. It quickly overwhelms and crowds out any plants plants in its path. Removing it from the environment promotes the growth of endemic plants, and a more diverse ecosystem.


So last summer I cut it back to the root and covered the roots with newspaper, garbage bags, bricks, rocks, old tarps, anything I could find that would block the light. All summer I kept cutting it back, covering it over, repeat. Even got a few battle scars along the way to prove it! Eventually most of it died back enough that I could chop the roots out. Several spots I left covered over the winter, and this spring dug the most of the rest of the roots out.


But it keeps coming back, and spreading further into the lawn. I did some more reading, research, and there is one more thing I hadn’t tried – I finally broke and bought some Round Up. I don’t know what bothers me more, that I bought an herbicide or that it’s made by Montsanto.

As far as pesticides go, this one is not to bad. It’s “broad spectrum”, which basically means it will kill anything green that it comes in contact with. And supposedly it readily breaks down in the environment. It is also about the only thing that will outright kill Japanese Knotweed. I used it as sparingly as I could, directly on the leaves and shoots, and covered them over so it wouldn’t spread when it rained, and so local wildlife, children or pets wouldn’t come into contact with it. (Luckily it’s also in a part of the yard that is secluded and where my daughter doesn’t play).

A Monsanto scientist discovered it back in the 70s, and Monsanto has since become famous for its genetically modified “Round up Ready” plants – corn and alfalfa plants that do not succumb to the effects of Round Up – so Round Up can be used around these plants to kill other plants so that “weeds” don’t inhibit the crops.

Monsanto became a household name when a farmer was sued for having Monsanto patented canola crop in their farm. The farmer hadn’t purchased the particular variety of “Round up ready” plants found growing on their farm, but the farmer claimed that the seeds had blown over from a nearby field. While we’ll never know what really happened, Monsanto won the lawsuit. This raises all kinds of ethical questions, such as whether living organisms should be able to be patented at all, not to mention the biological impacts of pesticide usage.

Direct exposure to pesticides are known to have negative health effects on humans, and if you’re reading this I probably don’t need to go on a tangent about “Silent Spring” (but you can read more below).

I looked into “natural” herbicide options, such as salts, or acetic acid. But every website I checked indicated that these natural alternatives would be useless against the mighty Japanese Knotweed.

When I went to buy the Round Up, it was under lock and key, and when I asked a clerk to help me out, they had to find a manager who had a pesticide license. He then proceeded to ask me what I was going to use it for and provided some advise on how to use it. All of these things sound like great customer service, but they are also required under Nova Scotia’s pesticide laws.

I plan to keep working on it, and while I feel like I’m losing the battle, if I keep at it I will eventually win this Japanese Knotweed war.




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