The Top Ten Ways Gardeners Can Give Back to Our Planet
by High Country Gardens
Happy Earth Day
"Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by the deluge of gifts earth bestows on us, entirely unearned: water, air, food, the ground beneath our feet... So what should be our response to the generosity of the world? Paying attention to it. Drinking it in. Letting its energy flow into us. Celebrating ... the physical and spiritual things, the tranquil and exhilarating things, prayer and poetry and pancakes alike." -- Robin Wall Kimmerer
While there is much to celebrate on Earth Day, it is even more urgent that we watch Mother Earth's back. With over seven billion people currently living on the Earth and using her resources, the days of plenty are gone. Conservation, restoration and resting the Earth's resources so that they can recover needs to become our focus. Here are some of my thoughts for doing so as it relates to us gardeners.
Ways Gardeners Can Practice Oraganic Gardening
Practice environmentally-friendly gardening techniques as much as possible. Protect our soil, our water and all the creatures (including ourselves) that depend on plants. Educate yourselves about alternatives to the chemical-intensive techniques and products that predominate in the marketplace.
Use our landscapes to provide flowers for pollinators and habitat for songbirds and other animals. Tens of millions of prairie and forest have been lost to human settlement, having disappeared under houses, shopping malls, offices, roads and highways. Give back by planting to provide food and shelter so other creatures can share our space. There is power in numbers; Think what a difference it would make If a million gardeners make it their goal to create habitat.
Teach our kids to grow plants and learn to garden. Video games won't feed us, and food doesn't just magically appear at the grocery store. Support community and school gardening programs.
Don't buy toxic gardening products. Let the stores where you shop for gardening products, know that we want organic and natural products. Tell them we want to learn how we can garden without the poisons that currently stock the shelves in the Big Box stores and many of our garden centers. Tell them we don't want to buy systemic pesticides that poison our pollinators (bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and others). Tell them we don't want to spread damaging "weed-n-feed" chemical fertilizers/pre-emergent herbicides on our lawns and under our bare feet.
Grow some food. Learn to appreciate what a gift it is to be able to plant seeds and harvest delicious, nourishing food. Plants are our direct connection to Mother Earth, pulling the goodness from the soil and feeding our bodies. This is our primordial connection to Earth that nourishes us physically and spiritually.
Buy organic food.Agri-business (industrial agriculture) is destroying the planet, abusing our precious farm animals, poisoning our bodies and polluting the Earth's soil, air and water. We can make our voices heard with our dollars. Seek out organic foods.
Demand that GMO foods be labeled. The dominance of GMO "Round-Up Ready" food crops directly results in the use of millions of tons of toxic herbicides, pesticide and chemical fertilizers that are poisoning the land, the water and our rural farming communities. We demand the opportunity to vote with our dollars by knowing if our food or food products (i.e. high fructose corn syrup) comes from genetically engineered crops. Again we must vote with our dollars if our need for a safe environment is to be heard.
Buy food from a Farmer's Market, Groceries or Food Coop that support and sell locally grown produce, food products, and grass feed/free range, non-feed lot meats. California, which supplies much of this country's food is in danger of running out of water this year! The catastrophic drought that is affecting the West Coast will directly affect a huge percentage of our food supply. Grow and buy locally. It only makes sense to de-centralize our food supplies so we can build and support a market infrastructure for local farmers.
Plant a tree. Planting a tree is an investment in the future. A statement that says we need to look to the future and do something about it today. Plant a shade tree to cool your home. Plant a fruit tree to grow some fruit. Plant a flowering tree to feed the bees.
Rudbeckia Goldsturm blooms in mid-to-late summer with an eye-catching display of golden flowers. Black Eyed Susan is very attractive to butterflies and the seed heads provide winter food for seed-eating songbirds as well. Reliable and tough, Rudbeckia tolerates both drought and clay plus easy to maintain.
Major Wheeler Honeysuckle (Lonicera) is a non-stop bloomer coloring the garden from late spring through the summer with showy clusters of orange-red flowers. Considered to be the longest blooming variety of honeysuckle and a superior flower for the hummingbirds. 2010 Plant of the Year.
Magnus is a distinctive, vigorous and large growing cone flower cultivar. The bright reddish-pink petals of its huge flowers are held flat as they radiate out from the cone, instead of curving backwards as is typical of most coneflowers.
Asclepias syriaca (Common Milkweed) is a gorgeous plant that produces purple/pink flower clusters that wildflower gardeners love and spreads quickly. This native perennial is a primary food source for the Monarch butterfly providing large leaves for caterpillars and big pink globe-like flowers that provide nectar for the adult butterflies. Planting it will help to support Monarch populations. Perennial.
Enjoy your garden by leaving your cell phone in the house. Be mindful and give your undivided attention to your plants, your soil, your landscape. Nurture a direct connection without the distractions of someone talking in your ear. Enjoy all that gardening and connecting to Mother Earth has to offer.
Make your time spent gardening restorative and let it bring you joy!