Jan of ThanksFor2Day asked garden bloggers to join in the Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project in celebration of Earth Day April 22. The theme of the blog project is sustainable living. Gardening and sustainable living would seem to go hand in hand. Upon reflection, I found that I couldn’t define sustainable living – the answer wasn’t as easy as I thought. A flashback of the 70’s raced through my head. I started singing the words of a John Prine song. “Blow up your TV, throw away your papers, move to the country…” I live in the suburbs and am addicted to the internet, so I’m not throwing anything away. But as a resident of NE Ohio, home of the famous (or infamous) Cuyahoga River fire of 1969, I thought that I needed to wade in.
Pat and I take part in all the normal environmental duties in which well meaning suburbanites partake. We recycle and have replaced our incandescent light bulbs with fluorescent ones, yippee. One thing we do that seems strange to our neighbors is that we never use our air conditioner, period.
How we work in our yard and garden is where we do our part for Mother Earth. We never water our turf grass. It is not worth the expense or trouble. No fertilizer is used on the turf grass. I let the grass grow to 3.5 inches or so, which deters most weeds; besides, I could never figure out when to spread what. We mow our leaves into the grass every fall, as added mulch. What we discovered when removing some sod for a new flower bed was that our benign neglect was actually beneficial. The roots reached down a good three inches, and the grass does well all season.
We installed rain barrels for watering our containers. In our garden we use only sweet peet (zoo poop and leaf humus) on the soil. I can’t speak highly enough about this local product. Luckily, Pat and I can populate new flower beds from existing plants and flowers. Recently we have concentrated on acquiring native plants. We are even trying our hand at suburban agriculture this year by starting a vegetable garden in what’s left of the backyard (thus reducing even more the amount of turf grass to maintain).
The 70s flashback blazes in my head again with an image of the Mother Nature poster and then I think I know what sustainable living is. Plant what grows in your area; that way you don’t have to waste water with unneeded watering. Opt for plants that propagate themselves. Don’t waste money on chemicals. If your pets can’t walk on it, why should you. And be nice to Mother Nature.