Philosophy

Why the Bicycle Trailer?

It doesn’t make sense to work for the environment, and then unnecessarily burn gasoline in the process. Not everyone can do without a car, but those looking to reduce their “ecological footprint,” can buy and hire locally. Not all Garden Cycles employees bicycle, but we offer wage incentives to “green commute.”

We occasionally carpool or rent a truck for deliveries, but a bicycle trailer usually suffices to carry bareroot plants and a shovel. Woodchips and erosion control fabric can be delivered. We also don’t haul organic matter off site (unless it’s a diseased, seeding, or re-rooting noxious weed) – it’s too valuable for building soil health critical for stormwater interception and filtration. 

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 and wildlife preferences. Let’s also think about the advertised “look” of lawn monocultures and exotic plants imposed on native ecosystems that affect the health and livelihood of Native cultures.  It’s all about working with nature.

Our approach to projects is simple: Plant evergreens at groundcover, shrub and tree levels to shade out weeds and intercept stormwater, and incorporate as much woody debris as practical (woodchips mainly) into and on the soil to increase the stormwater sponge capacity, and to recreate the “fungal food web” that existed before bulldozing and soil compaction. For aesthetics, 3 to 4 species planted in swaths are visually pleasing, with herbaceous diversity (trillium, Solomon’s Seal, bleading heart) planted in front of evergreen backdrops, much like florists use native salal and evergreen huckleberry in their floral displays.

For rain gardens, we like to use excavated soil from the rain garden to build surrounding berms to offset the swale. It adds a whole new dimension for a wow (!) factor mimicking hills and valleys. We also like to mimic stairstep waterfalls when we armor the “conveyance furrow” (see photo on following page).

We support organic farming and personally practice organic gardening for health and peace of mind. However, in forest restoration, English holly is outnumbering evergreen tree sprouts and doubling its numbers every six years (see: seedrain.org). Organic control (digging or cutting) of holly can cause 20 times the root suckers… it requires herbicide for eradication, and the longer we neglect it, the more herbicide will be required in the future. So, the restoration community has realized that judicious use of herbicide is the most environmentally friendly approach to protect forest diversity, soil health, and water quality.

Organic methods of ivy removal with manual soil disturbance puts deposits of air pollution (i.e., “stormwater,” like the grit on a dirty car) into solution, exacerbating toxic runoff from eroded soil that would otherwise be a sponge and filter for stormwater – the number one polluter of Puget Sound. Grubbing acres of ivy and blackberry in urban forests destroys topsoil and future forest health, and increases the “CSO” sewage overflows into fish habitat during heavy rain events. Also, consider that most restoration companies burn gallons of gasoline transporting crews to control invasives. Gasoline is FAR more toxic than the ounces of herbicide needed to prevent years of return trips to organically control invasives.

Garden Cycles accepts the risks of herbicide handling so you don’t have to, and we have licensed applicators on staff with Aquatic and Right-of-Way endorsements (WSDA # 74158). We take efforts to minimize drift with cut and paint, frilling, or stem injection methods, using “best practices” and the safest products available for humans, pets, fish and wildlife, considered “practically non-toxic” by the EPA. Despite much uncertainty and inadequate research, employing herbicide tools as part of “Integrated Pest Management” is likely far safer than neglecting the spread of ivy, holly, and knotweed that will kill forest diversity and fish habitat.

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