The KPRC Radio Gardenline Tip By Randy Lemmon For 03-09-06 Printer-Friendly Version
Email Hoax On Termites In Mulch
And Ensuing Rubber Mulch Marketing
I didn't think I would do a tip sheet on the LOUISIANA MULCH & TERMITE email hoax, but it is worth noting a few more things that have cropped up since last weekend's barrage of emails. Obviously, the number of forwarded emails on the subject has gone way down since we put this link up next to my email link at the website.
< http://www.950kprc.com/pages/termitemulch.html >
I think I know who either started this email hoax or is perpetuating it to a certain degree - makers of Alternative Mulches, like recycled rubber tires. If someone really did the research on where the genesis of this information came from, I would bet a case of my books that it was the brainstorm of someone trying to market an alternative. When I first started getting the email hoax my gut instinct was that someone is trying to market a different type of mulch, so I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop. And so it has! Guess what email question I've gotten in droves this week? "Randy, what do you think of these rubber mulches? They say it doesn't attract termites."
My, my!! And in my best Church Lady voice "Isn't that convenient!?!?" Here again is what I wrote in my book in the chapter on mulches:
You can always bet that when someone tells a consumer that mulches attract termites, they are usually selling something on the other end of the statement. It could be another mulch alternative they're pedaling or even a termite control. It's simply not true that shredded mulches "attract" termites. Yes, termites love cellulose material, but they aren't attracted to shredded mulches in the first place. And termites are pretty much already there. THEY'RE EVERYWHERE. Bottom Line: Don't let anyone convince you that shredded wood mulches are going to attract termites. They much prefer the white woods that lumber usually comes from; not decomposing shards of what used to be wood, now mixed with composts, or already decomposing on its own.
Furthermore, I was talking to John Ferguson, the mulch, compost and soil expert of Houston at Natures Way Resources.
< www.natureswayresources.com >
And he noted that wherever there's a good mulch that has any amount of compost in it, there's no chance for a termite to thrive. Ferguson writes: If the mulch is composted first, then the risk factor is very low. The heat of the composting (170 degrees F) will kill any insect. As the lignin and cellulose is broken down into humus there is far less food resources hence after composting it is not very attractive to the termites. In addition, the good microbes in the composted mulch will attack and parasitize the termites killing them (several species of fungus and bacteria have already been identified that attack termites).
So, am I down on rubber mulches? Not at all! I think they make for three really good uses. Playground mulch, dog run mulch and for areas of a yard that need a permanent walking path instead of shredded hardwood mulches. But rubber mulch in landscaping and around trees scares me for many reasons. The simple fact is, as it leaches some chemicals, (and yes, it will leach chemicals, despite what the marketing of rubber mulches claim) the ones that it leaches are the deadliest to our trees and shrubs; Zinc and Cadmium. The other main reason I hate the idea of rubber mulches in landscapes in Texas has to do with out heat. The heated up rubber during our summer months can only do more damage to the delicate feeder roots in the area, as it transfers the heat down to the soil.
Lastly, before you think I'm the only person that tells you not to use rubberized mulch in the landscapes please read these links.
< http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/~Linda%20Chalker-Scott/Horticultural%20Myths_files/Myths/Rubber%20mulch.pdf > (You will need a copy of Adobe Reader, free to download at < http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html > to read this one.)
< http://www.paghat.com/rubbermulch.html >
And you can still purchase a copy of my new book Gulf Coast Gardening with Randy Lemmon here...
< http://www.lulu.com/content/142186 >
If you are a garden retailer interested in stocking this book, please call the Nitro Phos Warehouse for wholesale ordering information. 713-228-1868.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.