Earth Day 2023 encourages us to Invest in Our Earth. If you have a pot, a plot or want to do something for the greater good in your community, investing in our earth is important. The investment of time by each of us can make a difference for the future. If you visit the official earthday website , it is filled with information on activities, programs and campaigns anyone can partake of.
Information on practical ways to reduce, recycle, and reuse our household waste is readily available. There are practices in place to reduce what is actually disposed of in our landfills. It is one of the easiest ways we can curb seeing the plastic bags along our highways, waterways, and more.
Increasing tree plantings within our communities will lower energy costs, provide shade, and decrease heat build-up. Planting native trees and plants can help us reduce excessive watering in our landscapes. Consider this – if we reduced the turf in our open spaces, it would reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides in our waterways. There is an advantage in reducing these two actions as we try to save our earth. Many municipalities are adopting this and other practices to save our earth. These are just a few easy actions to consider and are easy to implement.
REUSE, RECYCLE, REDUCE – SAY NO TO PLASTIC
Many gardeners are starting seedlings this year. Consider alternatives to using plastic pots for transplanting seedlings. Retrain your mind to consider reusing those yogurt, cottage cheese, or other small containers to size up the “pots” for transplanting. This is a great way to extend the usefulness of these containers. If properly cleaned and stored, they will provide a few years of use. If you are an avid gardener, try to refrain from using peat pots. Peat bogs are under environmental stress. This natural resource has become threatened and is considered endangered. Land development, climatic changes, and horticultural use are rapidly diminishing peat bogs globally. There are many alternatives for temporary pots including newspaper.
I recently found a biodegradable woven fiber pot which makes me feel better about not using plastic. These are a great alternative to using plastic pots.
These pots allow the air to flow through and deter sensitive plant roots from becoming tangled. These biodegradable pots allow water and air to flow through easily. This will result in healthier roots. The pot sleeve will break down as the plant grows in a pot or in the ground. I love being mindful in my actions as an earth-friendly resident on our earth. These biodegradable paper pots are easy to use for seed starting. If you are concerned about planting in your soil, or damaging your favorite pot, these pots are great for inserting into an existing pot without disturbing the roots.
Planting peanuts or potatoes and need something a little larger? Consider reusing a woven fiber grocery bag. Check your pantry for some that have seen better days. Use these for planting this season and discard after harvesting.
Outdoor temperatures hint that it is warm enough for planting. Try not to be in a rush to plant. Reputable garden centers often will advise consumers to wait until Mid-May before planting tender crops such as Basil. Planting in pots is fine, just watch for nighttime temperatures. A few years ago, we did have a hard frost in late May. That year, gardeners who planted early did not expect the extreme temperatures. Mid- to late May is the best time to consider planting summer annuals in the ground. For optimal results, nighttime temperatures should be consistently 50 degrees. Pay attention to nighttime temperatures. If you are planting in a raised bed or pot, you can plant now. Always keep an eye on the night time temperatures to avoid disappointment.
HERBS ARE EASY
Almost everyone uses herbs. One of the easiest things to grow and use are herbs. Many beginning or a seasoned gardeners find something special about gathering fresh herbs from a pot or plot in the garden. Basil is one of those easy to grow herbs. Use this herb in salads and even in drinks. Try making a pitcher of iced tea or even lemonade with a few basil leaves thrown in. Pinch them from the plant, tear, bruise, or muddle them to release more of the flavor. Try Basil leaves for hot tea in the winter time with a few mint leaves. Try a tall a glass of iced cucumber water with fresh basil leaves on a hot day. It is quite refreshing anytime!
Here are a few that I recommend – Mrs. Burns Lemon Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, or Sweet Basil to name a few. Adding diced basil leaves to a pasta salad or consider using large leaf basil as an alternative to bread for sandwich wraps. Use your imagination and if all else fails, try basil in a Bloody Mary, a cocktail or mocktail.
POLLINATOR PLANTS ARE A PLUS
As a gardener, I believe in the teachings of Dr. Doug Tallamy. We ARE Natures Best Hope. Dr. Tallamy encourages each of us to start where we can to create conservation corridors, pollinator pathways, as a way of creating wildlife habitats. His book is a must read if we are to ensure a healthy environment now and in the future.
If we create safe havens for our pollinators they will appreciate it. You do not need a lot of space. Create a native area in your pot or plot. Create groups of native plant material with similar growing conditions to bring nature in. At the end of the growing season consider this – LET IT BE! Planting for our pollinators has benefits beyond the bloom. Leaving finished blooms, disease free branches and even a bit of bare or un-mulched ground is a good thing. Each of these practices provides over wintering pollinators a safe haven.
Consider alternatives to pesticide use. Practice Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Your local Extension Office or clicking here, are great resources for information on pesticide use and abuse.
A well known plant used in pollinator gardens is Asclepias. The cultivars syriaca or tuberosa are beneficial to the Monarch butterfly. The common name for this plant is Butterfly weed. Keep in mind that this plant, like many natives, are perennial and increase in size yearly. The Pollinator Partnership website offers planting plans which are easy to use. Sharing excess plants with your neighbors is the easiest way to create a pollinator pathway in your community. Here are a few resources to find out more:
Investing in our earth is something each of us can do. As we celebrate Earth Day 2023, consider utilizing sustainable practices in your yard or community. Investing now is a best practice for the future of this earth.
Celebrating the earth each and every day!
Teri, Cottage in the Courtby