Lessons from my Garden

29 06 2016

This summer began with a new development in my home garden: after the first few years of shade-gardening with native plants, a light-gap has opened in the woods from a tree falling last year, allowing me to finally pursue a dream of vegetables. My husband and I put in the small, square raised bed; I planted a modest selection of tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper plants; and we fenced it in for protection from ever-present, hungry wildlife.

The first lesson I am confronting is patience.

I believe the seemingly contradictory qualities of impatience and distraction are responsible for my long history of a black thumb. Sometimes I smother my plants with eager watering and prodding; other times, I forget my charges, and they wither from neglect. I have begun to see that vegetables are delicate; if I want any kind of yield, I have to be diligent but not clingy.

Still, as I water them daily, I purse my lips and examine the stalks (gently!) for signs of new flowers.

I also have newfound gratitude for rain. I have always loved rainy days almost more than sunny ones, but rain takes on new meaning now, a direct sign of divine providence. “No need to water today!” I think, with a sigh of contended relief. It’s work lugging the big watering can up to the light gap, far from the hose’s reach.

All this watering gives me greater respect than ever for our crops’ tremendous strain on resources. Just seeing the daily amount my four plants require easily paints a picture in my mind of that amount magnified across our groaning planet. And it occurs to me that all of us, whether omnivore or carnivore, vegetarian or vegan, should be humbled by what it takes to provide for our needs on a daily basis.

Who knew such lessons await in such humble, green places?

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Recyling water filters

17 01 2009

After much petitioning, a grassroots campaign has succeeded in persuading Brita water filtration company to provide a recycling program for their plastic water filters. Go here to learn more, and go here to refill your own! (Thanks IdealBite!)





Green Deeds That Save You Money

10 11 2008

In the current economy, it’s harder to be consciously green. Some of us (myself included) might feel guilty when we can’t afford the organic this or the non-polluting that. There are, however, eco-friendly actions that can make a difference while saving us cash, and that’s something to be proud about. Below, five frugal ways to care:

  • Stop the bottled water habit. Invest in a Brita-style water filtration system to cut down on needless resource and money waste.
  • Buy fewer convenience foods. Look up recipes online for your favorite frozen or canned prepared meals and learn to cook them yourself for a lighter grocery bill and landfill load. Be careful, though; the ingredients you buy for some foods, like pizza, may add up to more than the prepared version’s price, so shop carefully.
  • Unplug sleeping appliances. Summer’s fans and the T.V. in the guest bedroom aren’t doing your electric bill any favors, so unplug appliances not in use to save between 6 and 26% on your monthly payments.
  • Keep your tires inflated. It might be a small difference, but improving your gas mileage is always good news for you and the planet, and it’s doesn’t cost much if you’re already at the gas station.
  • Make it last. In our consumer society, folks are often more inclined to throw something away when the going gets tough than to attempt a repair. Next time your favorite clothes get ripped, stained, or too small, consider learning some basic sewing skills and care techniques to extend their life. Also, it may be cheaper to repair an appliance with a simple problem than to send it packing, but according to Nick Harder of the Orange County Register, “If the cost of repairing the appliance is more than 50 percent of its replacement cost, buy a new appliance.” Consult an expert when diagnosing the problem, but if it’s really time for it to go, don’t throw it away–recycle!




Green backyards have more than just lawns.

28 05 2008

It’s been a busy week for me as work gets into swing at the state park. And as more people in the northern U.S. finally catch up to summer, it’s time to talk about going green in your backyard.

Landscaping with native plants is often called xeriscaping (xeri meaning “dry”), because native plants are adapted to the region’s climate and soil conditions and therefore require infrequent to no supplemental watering. Xeriscaping is technically gardening with a focus on water conservation, however, so I like to refer to wholistically green gardening as conservation landscaping.

Though I don’t have a garden behind my city apartment, I did grow up with gardeners, and I had to do a large amount of research on the subject for a work project. So, I will share some useful links and tips on landscaping in a way that enhances the natural potential of your garden while offering habitat for wildlife and miles more eco-friendly benefits than traditional gardening.

The first and most important tip? Don’t obsess about having a green lawn. Lawns are artificial to begin with–the grass wasn’t here before Europeans were–and keeping them green to the current American standard requires more money, pesticides, herbicides, petroleum-based fertilizers, time spent mowing, gasoline, and water, water, water than Earth can stand. Cut back your lawn habit slowly by allowing it to go a little brown during drought periods and by reducing its size over time. The brown is a natural way for the grass to go dormant, and it will return. Meanwhile, replace the parts of your lawn which you don’t need with beautiful gardens of native plants, and watch the wildlife flock to your doorstep. And stay tuned for more on conservation landscaping.








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