The Environmental Benefits of Gardening
Not to put too fine a point on it, the earth is the only home we have. There is no other orbiting planet on which to relocate, and no transport of the planet we have.
As such, we should be interested in protecting and keeping our home as healthy as we can. Just as we care for and maintain our stick and mortar houses, we have the opportunity, and responsibility, to contribute to keeping our earthly home in good condition.
Looking at the situation overall, it might seem too big a proposal. After all, the earth is enormous compared to our lowly personages.
It has a diameter of 7,926 miles at the equator. Looking up the Earth’s mass I found out that it is...well...a lot! Any information that is presented in the form of an equation is huge.
Not only is it big, but it is also orbiting the sun at a speed of about 66,638 miles an hour. Which explains the dizzy spells I get when thinking about how I can make a positive difference to the environment.
Just as there is strength in numbers, so too, there is strength in the individual and the constructive difference that one person can make. Don’t ever discount your contribution.
Keeping a garden is one of the ways to make a difference and one that is not insignificant. When you add trees and plants, you are helping to convert carbon into oxygen; the very stuff we need to breathe.
This article will go over some of the ways in which your actions can contribute to the maintenance of our home here on Earth through gardening.
Reduce Energy Cost
This first action contributes both to being kinder to the environment and saving you money, so it is a win-win. As we know, the sun can heat up our houses and trigger the urge to turn on the air conditioner.
Planting trees and shrubs in areas that block the sun can keep your living space cooler, and reduce the use of fossil fuels an air-conditioner will need to do the same thing.
Those same trees and shrubs can help in the winter by blocking cold winds and keeping your house warmer during the colder months.
Prevent Soil Erosion
The trees and shrubs that you planted to reduce energy costs do double duty as agents that help prevent soil erosion. Roots from these plantings will help to bind the soil together.
When heavy rains deluge the area, the soil is less likely to wash away. Topsoil, that valuable outermost layer of soil, is more often affected by water movement. This top five inches of soil is what you want to protect.
Topsoil has the highest concentration of organic matter and microorganisms. It is within this important layer that most of the Earth’s biological soil activity occurs and nutrients are added to the soil. Planting a good ground cover with a substantial root system will help prevent erosion from occurring.
Soil is vital, as this is where plants get their footholds for their roots. Soil holds the nutrients for plants to grow. This multitasker both filters rainwater and regulates any excess water to prevent flooding.
Topsoil also stores large amounts of organic carbon. Along with being able to shield against pollutants, soil, in turn, protects groundwater quality. In addition, soil provides scientists with a record of past environmental conditions.
When you add trees and plants to your corner of the world, the organic material that falls from those plants helps to provide the material needed for healthy soil. Makes you think a bit differently about the importance of the dirt under your feet.
The Birds And The Bees
When you plant a garden, trees, or flowering shrubs, you benefit the environment by giving a boost to both birds and bees.
A garden, and the plants in it, provide protection from predators for birds. The birds, in return, keep away unwanted insects. The trees and bushes give the birds places to nest and raise their young. Another service that birds provide is the spreading of vegetative seeds, which is a food source for other wildlife, in addition to creating more plants when they deposit the seeds they have ingested.
Bees are equally as valuable in a garden. I have been stung by bees once or twice in my lifetime, and the memory still gives me chills. I don’t want it to happen again, but in actuality, bees are our buddies.
They are responsible for pollinating one-sixth of the flowering plants worldwide and over four hundred agricultural types of plants.
These guys are hard workers and would appreciate a little help from us. Trees like hazel, holly, goat, or willow help bees throughout the year. In autumn, ivy is sought after when it is flowering.
If you grow either fruits or vegetables, bees will love you for it, and will also help to pollinate your own vegetables. Beans are a favorite, along with onions and peppers.
They will be in seventh heaven if you plant apples, pears, blackberries, strawberries or raspberries. You can make it easy on yourself for harvesting fruit trees by choosing dwarf varieties.
Reduce Your Carbon Foot Print
For me, there is no substitute for a homegrown tomato. You might as well place a piece of cardboard on that burger or BLT sandwich if the tomato was not grown in your garden.
They are easy to grow, just a sunny spot and some water, and you are provided with a (is it a fruit or a vegetable?) anyway, a taste treat. I love stepping out the back door and plucking a garnish from my garden while knowing I am making the bees happy. (but still avoiding them)
When you grow your own food, not only does it taste better, it saves on trips to the store. I have saved on groceries, gas, and my time. Plus it has reduced my carbon footprint.
Even if you live in an apartment, there are many vegetables that you can grow in containers. Some towns have plots of land that are set aside for community gardening.
And if none of that works for you, consider shopping at a local farmers market. You will get a fresher, higher grade of products, and will still reduce your carbon footprint as the items will be brought in locally, not trucked from several states over.
Plants and Gardens as Housekeepers
There are not too many of us that get excited or look forward to cleaning. Trees, shrubs, and plants clean the air naturally, and to our benefit.
I will not name names, but I know several people who are full of hot air, and it was proved to me when doing research for this article. When we breathe, we expel carbon dioxide; a waste product. I am convinced that some expel more than others.
Plants, clever as they are, take in that carbon dioxide through their leaves. Through the process of photosynthesis, they expel water and oxygen. True recyclers!
They also remove bacteria and chemicals floating in the air, making them the ultimate housekeepers.
Not only do they work above ground, but their roots also take up a majority of what they come in contact with. That means that contaminants in the soil are also scrubbed by the photosynthesis process.
Lastly, Teach Your Children Well
This might be where you make your biggest positive impact on the environment through gardening. Teach your children, grandkids, students, or any other young ones that are in your orbit. Volunteer at a local school to demonstrate how to garden.
Kids soak up the lessons that are hands-on, and seeing and experiencing a lesson has a greater influence on a child than reading about it in a book. Herbs are grown on a window ledge, flowers in a pot, whether it is a big or small effort the lesson will last.
If you have ever been in any kind of situation where a few did the work of many, you understand what a hard slog that can be. If each person did their fair share, it makes a profound difference.
We are past the point of wondering if we should, we are at the point of knowing we have to do our part to benefit our environment.
There are those that will be able to more than others. I have a big yard, and my friend lives in an apartment. I will do what I can, and she will do what she can. But we both are aware and strive to do the best we possibly can for our home, which is the only one we have.