When green  isn’t good
FOBB is sponsoring a talk on how to care for lawns and landscapes without toxic chemicals that foster algae blooms.

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When green isn’t good

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
8/31/2017


Mud Creek in East Patchogue looked tranquil enough with ducks skimming the surface Monday morning. Except instead of clear creek water, they were treading on a sheet of green algae.

Yuck! 

“It’s from nitrogen runoff,” said Thomas Schultz, president of Friends of Bellport Bay standing by the bridge pointing out the green goo with co-director Katia Read shaking her head. “It’s a good example of what’s affecting our waterways.”

Schultz, Read, and the entire FOBB non-profit will be leading the way to a better way to lawn care that’s kinder to the environment this Friday, Sept. 1, when landscape designer, environmentalist and founder, President of the Perfect Earth Project Edwina von Gal discusses alternative methods to promote toxin-free lawns in her talk “The PRFCT Yard.” 

“Friends of Bellport Bay has four initiatives, one being educating communities to reduce our nitrogen imprint,” Schultz said. “High nitrogen fertilizers can enter into our water tables and into the bay. It causes toxic blooms like mahogany, rust and brown tides which we’ve been dealing with all summer. Usually, the blooms hit like clockwork on Father’s Day.” That’s when the waters are warming up causing the lurking nitrogen to ‘bloom.’ 

Another contributing factor: antiquated septic systems, which the county is addressing with its current program.  

FOBB is funding the free lecture by von Gal. You can still use fertilizers; von Gal will steer you through the mystery of what’s good, what isn’t, and why. She started her non-profit organization, PerfectEarthProject.org, in 2013. 

“That’s been this disconnect,” said Schultz. “No one’s been able to make the right choices for non-toxic or environmentally friendly ones. She articulates the problem and provides a solution.”

“It’s not only the products,” Read said. “Her watering method, watering your lawn twice a week for longer periods of time also helps.”

“I’ve reduced my lawn nitrogen footprint by 70 percent,” Schultz said. “I water once a week.”

“Also, leave the grass clippings on the lawn; it’s a natural fertilizer,” Read said. 

You won’t be sorry you attended - von Gal, who lives in East Hampton, is a wealth of information. “I’m a landscape designer. I work with people who expect a high level of quality, and as I started getting towards the age of retirement, I wanted to promote environmental practices. I never used synthetic chemicals that are manufactured. It’s the difference between eating good foods or just taking a pill, you need a good diet and exercise and it’s the same for plants. Once my design was done I had never really talked to my clients about putting on synthetics, but then I approached them. ‘Would you let me walk you through the process?’ and it worked. When I showed them a landscape even better than theirs without using synthetic chemicals, they were on board.” 

She mentioned culprits like pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. “They’re horrible for the bay,” she said. “And they harm you on contact. That’s why those yellow warning flags are out. People should be freaking out. Why would we put something on our lawns that’s harmful to our kids and animals? Lawns are supposed to be rolled around on.”

She echoed the tips Schultz and Read gave. “Mowing higher crowds out the weeds,” she said. “And if you water, do it less and do it deeply, once or twice a week. The other thing you’re creating is the perfect mosquito habitat for your lawn. It needs to dry out between watering.” 

There are weekly tips people can sign up for; von Gal is also coming with Paul Wagner, president of Greener Pastures and Soil Food Network New York. 

The event, which is free, has gotten such a response, Schultz said, the event was moved from the Bellport-Brookhaven Historical Society to the Bellport Community Center.

Schultz is requesting an R.S.V.P., There are still a few spots left, so call 631-880-2693, if you intend to come or email BellportBay@optimum.net.  (UPDATE: This event is now sold out.)

Can’t make it? “E-mail us that you’d like information and we’ll give you the links,” Schultz said.