Sunday, December 11, 2011

Gardening in Sydney 1953:A chemical romance

F R Green Daily Mirror Gardening expert
Cover photo flowers by Mrs Z Tregenna
of 'Jane Ann Florists', Double Bay, Sydney

"You can play golf and have a garden too......." only a Sydneysider could use those words as the chapter heading on growing perennials. With the tone thus set of gardening as a bit of a chore which keeps you away from doing something more interesting, how best to manage your quarter acre block in the suburbs? F R Green's advice, like many other garden writers of the time, was to go and talk to someone at a "scientific technical service department" in a city garden store to have all your pest and disease problems solved and then carry the purchased "deadly weapon" home on the tram. DDT, the organochlorine insecticide was already well established as a "cure all" but 1953, when this book was published, saw the release of new products to help gardeners. One was the German manufactured insecticide E605 or Parathion (E = entwichlungsummer) which is closely related to the nerve agent Sarin. Though proving the Germans have a sense of humour it was called schwiegermuttergift or mother-in-law poison.
The soil fumigant chloropicrin was recommended to control soil nematodes or eelworms. This had become well known as a chemical warfare weapon in 1917 through its use by the Germans on the Italian front ,though it was first synthesized by Scottish chemist John Stenhouse way back in 1848.
Monsanto also released the soil conditioner Krilium as an aid to improving soil tilth and aeration and reducing compaction. The perfect product for vegetable growers when sowing seeds directly into the soil. Krilium was made from highly water absorbent non toxic polyacrylimide. However unpolymerized acrylamide is a neurotoxin and a percentage remains after synthesizing. Current data suggests that the "evidence of acrylamide posing a cancer risk has been strengthened'
1953 advertising from Monsanto Chemicals
(Australia) Limited
Happy Gardening!

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