Saturday, April 23, 2011

Smart gardening practices can reduce climate impact

Heidi Kratsch in in Reno Gazette-Journal: …Warming also is causing earlier spring warming, leading to a change in the timing for flowering in some plants. This affects the range of their natural occurrence and the survival of the insects that pollinate them. In fact, the American Horticultural Society recently updated their hardiness zone map, based on temperature data collected during the past 16 years to reflect the rising earth temperatures. Some areas of the country have shifted one or two hardiness zones based on the new data.

…So what can you, an avid gardener, do about it? A lot. Not only can you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, you can grow plants, which remove carbon from the atmosphere and sequester it in their living tissues where it can do no harm to our environment. In fact, gardening is one of the few activities that, if done consciously, can be carbon neutral. The following are tips for reducing your greenhouse gas emissions and turning your garden into a net carbon sink:
  • Preserve existing trees and shrubs in your yard, and plant more. Through the process of photosynthesis, plants remove carbon from the air and convert it to sugars. Sugars fuel plant growth, and this process provides humans with life-supporting oxygen. Because woody plants get very large and live a long time, they sequester a lot of carbon for a long time.
  • Feed the soil, not the plants. Plants don't need fertilizers, they need nutrients to survive. Fertilizers do provide nutrients but at a cost. Fossil-fuel-based fertilizers emit greenhouse gases as they are manufactured….
  • …Spread a thin layer of organic matter on the lawn in spring to provide nutrients, and don't add fertilizers during the heat of summer when most lawns are semi-dormant and not actively growing.
  • Maximize planted areas, and minimize paved areas. Paved areas create heat, and paving materials emit carbon during their manufacture. Rather than heating up your yard, cool it down with plants.
  • Ground covers can be planted in non-turf areas and used in strips between paved areas. They grow low to the ground and require little maintenance, all the while soaking up carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. What could be better?...
Thistles in the Swan Lake Nature Study Area in Reno, Nevada, shot by Ragesoss, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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