Thursday, April 22, 2010
Happy Earth Day! Or how to save the planet in ten easy steps.
Happy Earth Day!
In the spirit of the day, here are ten ways that gardeners can save our planet:
1. Eschew chemicals. Too many of the chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides used by gardeners and farmers wind up in our water supply to the detriment of the environment and of our health. Everything that you use a chemical for has an environmentally safe and effective organic counterpart. Find out what they are and use them.
2. Use native plants in your landscape whenever feasible. These tough plants are acclimated to anything that Mother Nature is likely to throw at them here; moreover, they have evolved with our native wildlife and are more likely to be utilized by them.
3. Invite helpful wildlife into your garden. One way, of course, is to plant native plants, but wildlife need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. If you can provide those things, your yard will soon be teeming with bees, butterflies, birds, spiders, lizards, frogs, toads, and, yes, even snakes. They are all the gardener's friends.
4. Harvest rainwater. As water becomes a scarcer commodity in our environment, it is important that we not let this valuable resource go to waste. Rain barrels, bog gardens, and other features that trap and use rain are becoming more popular, as well they should. Climb onto the bandwagon!
5. Use plants that require less water. Practice xeric gardening and water plants only when needed.
6. Use drip irrigation where possible. If you have a sprinkler system, for heaven's sake, use common sense about it. How wasteful it is to have sprinklers watering the sidewalks or to have them running during a rainstorm!
7. Grow at least some of your own food. Even if it is only one pepper or tomato plant, there is nothing that tastes better than food you have grown yourself. Plus, you have the advantage of controlling what goes into the production of that food, and growing it will give you an enhanced respect for the Earth and her processes.
8. Recycle whenever possible. Don't add unnecessarily to the piles of trash which must be disposed of. Start a compost pile and compost everything that you can. Find new uses for old or found objects. Many times, these can be used in the garden in various ways, even as garden ornaments.
9. Mulch. A thick layer of mulch is one of the nicest things you can do for your plants and for the Earth. It conserves moisture, ameliorates extremes in temperatures, and gradually add nutrients to the soil - which is the best way to add nutrients to the soil.
10. Support local growers, farmers' markets, and other local gardening organizations. And spread the word and the enthusiasm about gardening whenever you get the chance, particularly with young people. It has been said that kids today suffer from "Nature Deficit Disorder." There are few more effective cures for that malady than to get them interested and involved in gardening.
Lastly, think globally but act locally. Do your bit on your own little patch of the Earth and you'll be helping to save the planet.