Friday, April 9, 2010

Jim and Pat's Sustainable Gardening

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.


10 comments:

Noelle said...

Great tips Jim! And I love the photo of you behind all the dirt ;-) I only wish I could keep my A/C off in the summer. Oh well, I do keep our heater turned down low in the winter.

Edith Hope said...

Dear Jim, This is a very thought provoking posting and one in which you give many ideas as to how each one of us can do something to improve the environment, live in a less wasteful way and, hopefully, bring the planet back from the abyss which it is currently facing.

I hope that you and Pat are enjoying a happy, and restful, weekend.

CherylR said...

Jim, what a great post. I think you are doing everything you can do not harm the enviroment. Well done. However, it has also got me thinking about my gardening and I too may join Sustainable Gardening. Thank you!

Di said...

Jim, you must be doing it all correctly... look at that lush vegetation and I love all your hostas... simply gorgeous.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Dear Jim,I want to thank you for adding your post to this project-it is wonderful! Ihave enjoyed learning how other people 'live' with regard to their garden 'lifestyles'. It does seem like sustainable and gardening would be one and the same-but obviously they are not. I have to implement some serious changes to my lifestyle because I've had some sense knocked into me by holding this project! When I get back to my computer later today I will add your post to the list. I'm on the BB at the moment and cannot publish it but wanted to say thank you for participating and sharing;-) Jan

Is the Wiz said...

Love your ideas and sweet peet sounds good. I'm trying out a mix of leafmould and stable manure this year. Sometimes it feels like it's just a drop in the ocean, then I remember the power of rain.

leavesnbloom said...

Jim that photo of that black gold is great - I didn't realise it was a much as that from the earlier photo you had a few days ago. That is a huge amount!

If your pets can’t walk on it, why should you. Yeah - those are very thought provoking words for me.
I hope you and Pat have an enjoyable weekend. :) Rosie

Laurrie said...

It all makes such good sense. I love that big pile of compost! (Also love that last photo, with the path through the gardens, very nice composition. It invites a wander)

gippslandgardener said...

Hi Jim, what a wonderful post on sustainable gardening, your personal approach is inspiring. I'm trying to take a similar approach and am getting there step by step.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Congratulations, Jim...you're a winner!

http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-earth-day-contribution-and.html