The Arizona fall/winter gardening season is fast approaching. We will explore some practical tips for a more climate-friendly garden. According to EPA data, homeowners use more pesticides on their lawns and gardens than farmers do, acre for acre. Synthetic chemical pesticides require a lot of energy to manufacture, producing a significant amount of carbon dioxide in the process. To reduce your use of synthetic pesticides, consider planting native plants. Native plants are low maintenance because they are adapted to local soils and climate, and are more resistant to native plant viruses, insects, and bacteria. Shop your local farmer’s markets for native plant varieties suited to your area. Foster natural predators in your garden, such as frogs, toads, lizards, birds, and even bats. Beneficial insects can be your best friends, especially ladybugs (many nurseries even sell cans of them). Bugs are good for your plants; only 5-15% are actually pests.Build a carbon-rich soil with organic matter which will drain well, prevent water pollution, support many beneficial microbes and insects, and sustain plant growth with little or no synthetic fertilizer (which is derived from fossil fuels and requires a lot of energy to manufacture). Recycle yard trimmings, dead garden plants, and kitchen waste into compost and mulch. Compost will enrich the soil while mulch reduces weeds and water loss. There are many internet sites that will help you plan and maintain a healthy compost. Weed, prune, and rake leaves by hand whenever possible. If you have a lawn, consider using a push or electric mower rather than a gasoline-powered one; every gallon of gasoline you burn puts 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere.
Research the proper watering technique for your garden and yard – drip, soak or irrigate? Whenever possible, harvest rainwater.
Most supermarket produce travels more than 1,500 miles to get to your dinner plate. Growing food in your garden eliminates some of that transportation and its heat-trapping emissions. If you do not have the yard space for a vegetable garden, consider starting a community garden in your neighborhood with family and friends. Whenever possible, buy locally grown produce. Gardening practices alone won’t solve global warming. As with switching to more efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs or reusable shopping bags, cultivating a climate-friendly garden or lawn is just a small piece of the puzzle. Each one of us can play an important part in the fight against climate change by storing carbon in our soil and trees, and reducing heat-trapping emissions from pesticides, fertilizers, and garden waste and equipment.
MAKE IT PERSONAL AND BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!