April 25, 2011 in Features

Do Your Part: Controlling garden pollution

Terri Bennett, Mcclatchy
 

Our gardens are a place to enjoy nature, relax, and carry out our outdoor labors of love. They shouldn’t be a place where we pollute.

But much of the time we are doing just that with how we plant, water and maintain our gardens.

So, how truly green does your garden grow? Do your part to make it as green as can be.

These days, there’s really no need to use those plastic plant containers which usually end up in landfills. Instead, try biodegradable pots that are actually better for what you’re growing.

My favorite seed-starting pots can be dropped right into the ground and forgotten. They are 100 percent organic, allow roots to grow right through them and cost just pennies apiece.

More and more growers are using these kinds of pots, and the added benefit to you is that your new plants will avoid the shock of being transplanted from the pot to the soil.

We all know our gardens need plenty of water during the warm months. Why pay for water when you can get it from Mother Nature for free using a rain barrel?

If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of installing and using a rain barrel, don’t be. I installed several at my home with just a couple of tools and a few minutes.

And there’s a simple, nontoxic solution to battling mosquitoes called Mosquito Dunks, which can be found at most garden centers.

Plants actually prefer rainwater to city water, so your plants will thrive when you use a rain barrel and you’ll save on your utility bills. You can watch a quick video of me installing a rain barrel at DoYourPart.com/Columns.

Another way we can be more eco-friendly outdoors is by making smarter choices with all of the yard equipment we use. Lawn equipment is responsible for 5 percent of America’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Clearly, manually powered lawnmowers, trimmers and the like are always best, but they’re not always practical. So when you need new equipment, opt for electric over gas-powered.

Americans use 600 million gallons of gas each year just to power yard tools. Electric ones create less pollution even when you consider the energy needed to power them. They also create less noise pollution and you’ll never have to remember to fill them up.

When it comes to bugs in your garden, remember that not all of them are bad. Some bugs will actually help you by eating other bugs that eat your plants.

Ladybugs and praying mantids are two beneficial bugs that will devour pests like aphids, flies and mosquitoes. You can purchase them online or at some local garden centers.

For other pests like slugs, a shallow can filled partially with beer will invite them in for a nightly swim but they won’t be able to escape.

Now that it’s the season to enjoy the outdoors, do your part and make your green thumb a darker shade of green.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of DoYourPart.com, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet. Send questions to terri@doyourpart.com.


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