Why the Bicycle Trailer?

It doesn’t make sense to work for the environment, and unnecessarily burn gasoline in the process. The impacts of carbon dioxide include warming ocean temperatures ( that decimate migrating salmon (Mackerel Blamed for Wild Salmon Decline). Climate change is largely responsible for repeated droughts that threaten west coast forests from Mexico to Canada (Western Wildfires).

Despite the hypocrisy of “eco-name” truckscapers, the reality of a growing business and retaining employees requires accepting jobs outside of bicycle distance. The founder of Garden Cycles continues to be car-free (approaching 30 years), and recently adapted to an electric bicycle (and loving it!), thanks to a sponsorship from Alki Bicycles and Bafang E-Components.

Not all employees are able to sustain hard work by bicycle, however, the trees we plant do mitigate some of our carbon, and we purchase carbon credits from Evergreen Carbon. We also offer wage and profit sharing incentives to employees to “green commute.” Not everyone can do without a car, but those looking to reduce their “ecological footprint,” can buy and hire locally.

Restoration Practices

We’ve all heard “Right plant, right place.”  Let’s add, “Right tool, right timing,” and look at what’s right according to soil type, moisture, and sunlight exposure. It’s all about working with nature.

Our approach to restoration is simple: 1) Thoroughly eradicate invasives, 2) incorporate woody debris (woodchips, woodstraw, branches, logs) into and on the soil to increase the stormwater sponge capacity (to recreate the “fungal food web” that existed before bulldozing, root removal, and soil compaction ( before you dig), 3) emphasize evergreen plantings at groundcover, shrub and tree levels to intercept stormwater and reduce weed reinvasion, 4) plant diverse evergreen and deciduous native plants for ecosystem resiliency, and 5) take measures to reduce kindling loads while retaining nurse logs for soil moisture.

Web of roots for slope stabilization

For slope restoration, our goal at the toe of the slope is to establish a buttress/retaining wall of large-tree roots (photo illustration left) that compress and hold soils above, and a blanketing underground web of diverse roots throughout the slope that pins everything together. Unlike geo-engineering with immediate benefits, healthy vegetation grows increasingly stronger with age, improving wildlife habitat, stormwater filtration, and natural beauty.

While Garden Cycles supports organic farming and the founder personally practices organic gardening for health and peace of mind, ecological restoration requires a different approach. Organic control (digging or cutting) of many invasives can cause 20 times the root suckers, particularly holly and knotweed. Soil disturbance from manual grubbing exacerbates stormwater runoff that harms salmon, orcas, and Puget Sound. Stormwater runoff comes mostly from air pollution deposited and sequestered in soil, plus toxins from roads, pet feces, and repeated chemical lawn care.

In restoration, herbicides are intended to be once or twice applied for site preparation before planting weed-resistant native vegetation. Herbicide is required to minimize soil disturbance, and required for cost and carbon efficiency given the magnitude of the invasive problem. Of the herbicides mainly used – triclopyr, glyphosate, and imazapyr – the aquatic formulations are vetted for use in sensitive areas (wetlands) by the EPA, Dept. of Ecology and by King County Noxious Weeds when used by a licensed professional. While certain herbicides are controversial and perhaps toxic to individuals in large amounts in their concentrated form, and harmful to environmental health when overused in farming or homeowners not following the label recommendations, the consensus in the restoration community (who all started this work with an organic bias) is that they break down into harmless elements relatively fast, and the toxicity of diluted products is comparable to many household products or foods commonly consumed.

We might use a few ounces of herbicide in a day of work to prevent invasive monocultures that would otherwise result in future use of far more toxic rodenticides and insecticides, given that factory farming has proven again and again that monocultures are “ecologically unstable,” that is, the potential for regional conditions in which insect and disease outbreaks may be impossible to control, chemically or otherwise. Compared to the 143 billion gallons of gasoline consumed in the US in 2017… ounce for ounce, there’s no comparison even according to the industries’ own Data Safety Sheets. A recent OSU glyphosate report ranks cancer risks of red meat, alcohol, sunlight, and wood dust as being more carcinogenic than glyphosate, with coffee, cell phones, and gasoline comparably categorized (gasoline has other immediate, long-term, and global effects).

Four of five credible organizations: 1) US National Institute of Health, National Toxicology Program, 2) US Environmental Protection Agency, 3) European Union, Canada, Australia, Japan, 4) Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues… list glyphosate as “No evidence of carcinogenic activity”, with the exception of the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reporting glyphosate as a “Probable human carcinogen.” Notwithstanding 1.7 million tons (3.4 billion pounds) of glyphosate overused on factory farms since 1974, this most-studied herbicide has not been shown to harm groundwater or have residual cleanup issues.

Despite new research raising questions about glyphosate, it is our view that an ounce of prevention is the most environmentally friendly approach to protect forest diversity, soil health, and water quality. Invasive species are ranked second behind habitat destruction as the main causes of extinctions, so we cannot let invasives become regionally entrenched, destroying our diversity, pollinators, and public health.

Restoration professionals accept the uncertainties of handling herbicide (so you don’t have to), in order to prevent worse damage to forest and marine ecosystems. We have licensed applicators on staff with Aquatic and Right-of-Way endorsements (WSDA # 74158).

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