As we head into Earth Month and look forward to Earth Day on April 22, this is a great time of year for gardeners to reflect on our impact on the environment and make small changes to help protect our planet.
Here are six things to consider incorporating into your gardening routine to help conserve resources year-round and create a healthy environment for your plants and the world around us:
- Start composting: Composting is a great way to reduce your household waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your garden.Keeping food waste out of landfills reduces methane, a greenhouse gas, produced by decomposing organic materials in landfills.
- Reduce food waste: Food waste makes up around 25% of landfill materials in the US. The water, fertilizers, labor and transportation required to bring food to our tables is considerable, yet much of it ends up in the landfill. Buy what you need, plan for its use, freeze, dry or share food before it spoils.
- Plant native and other appropriate water-efficient plants: When you plant native species, you help support local ecosystems and wildlife. In Southern California we have a massive plant palette to choose from, and many plants thrive with little to no additional water once established. Save time and precious water with plants adapted to the soil and precipitation in your area. Visit our blog for more information and tips on native species here and here.
- Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and minimize fertilizer and pesticide use: Healthy plants are more resistant to pests and disease; choose appropriate plants for the area and soil type. Determine your tolerance for pests or damage on particular plants and remember, if something is nibbling on your plants, they’re part of the larger ecosystem. IPM is an effective and environmentally-sensitive approach that offers a wide variety of tools to reduce pests and exposure to pesticides.
- Conserve water: Gardeners can help conserve water by selecting drought tolerant plants, using drip irrigation, watering early in the morning or late in the evening, mulching to retain moisture, modifying landscapes to slow or prevent water runoff, and by collecting rainwater.
- Reduce plastic waste: Avoid single-use plastics when possible. Use a refillable bottle, bring plates and silverware to work,and store the reusable bags we all have in your vehicle or purse. Be mindful of product packaging, many plastic alternatives are available. Often, purchasing larger quantities of commonly purchased items reduces the amount of packaging. Reduce your use of plastic in the garden by using biodegradable pots and containers, reuse plastic nursery pots, and repurpose plastic soil and amendment bags as trash bags.
With simple switches and small changes, gardeners can make a positive impact on the environment and help protect our planet for future generations. Happy Earth Month, and happy gardening!