Now that we have officially entered Spring (though it certainly doesn't feel like it in most of the country), we thought that it was time to start thinking about gardening! As we all know, plants are vital to the clean air that we breathe, so at AirFilterBuy.com we have a number of avid gardeners!
Your garden could be a miniature wildlife sanctuary or it could be making a substantial contribution to soil and water pollution and even your carbon footprint. If you’d prefer your garden helped rather than hindered the environment, get started with these basic ways to have a genuinely green thumb.
The main environmental problem caused by gardening is pollution. Gardeners often use more chemicals per acre than commercial farmers, sometimes a lot more. Pesticides and herbicides are by their very nature toxic, poisoning local ecosystems. They are especially dangerous to aquatic life. Artificial fertilizers are not benign either. Their nutrients leak easily into water systems, where they lead to dangerous algal blooms because algae use much the same nutrients as plants.
Therefore, the obvious first step in becoming a green gardener is to eliminate, or at least drastically reduce, the use of chemicals. You have lots of alternatives for pest control, ranging from companion planting to simply picking the pests off by hand, which is practical on the small scale of a garden. Some gardeners keep a few chickens as a pest control team, although you should check local regulations first. It goes without saying that if you have neighbors, don’t get a rooster. Few people enjoy being woken up at the crack of dawn every day by over-enthusiastic poultry. Alternatively, encourage wild animals such as snakes, frogs and birds to visit your garden as they will also keep the slugs down.
The best alternative to fertilizers is of course compost. Starting your own compost heap or bin helps the environment in several different ways at once. It means you don’t have to use artificial fertilizers, it is a convenient on-site form of recycling organic material and it forms a home for beneficial creatures such as worms. On a normal compost heap you can put fruit and vegetable kitchen waste, paper, cardboard, eggshells, pet waste from herbivores and small rodents (e.g. horses, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs), lawn clippings and dead weeds. Just don’t add pet waste from carnivores (e.g. dogs, cats), cooked food or living weeds. These form respectively a health risk, a smell risk and a weed risk. Food scraps may also attract pests.
Avoiding water waste saves on the energy and resources required to store, transport and treat the supply, while reducing the pressure on existing sources (and the need to develop new ones). If you garden appropriately to the climate, you should rarely need to use extra water at all. For watering during exceptionally dry spells, use grey water. Grey water isn’t dirty but it has been used for something else, such as washing clothes. Elaborate grey water systems exist or you could simply collect the water used for washing dishes in a jug. Grey water is safe for lawns, decorative plants and trees (including fruit trees) but don’t use it directly on vegetables.
Grow Your Own
Growing your own organic fruit and vegetables helps, albeit in a small way, to reduce your carbon footprint. The further something has to travel, the more fossil fuel consumed. For example, a pound of grapes from the other side of the world has a carbon footprint of a pound – that’s the equivalent of driving half a mile. A pound of apples from your own garden has a carbon footprint of practically zero. It might even be negative if you take into consideration the carbon dioxide an apple tree absorbs.