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Now browsing: Hometown News > Gardening > Garden Nook

Taking better care of the planet past Earth Day
Rating: -1 / 5 (2 votes)  
Posted: 2014 May 02 - 08:55

I hope everybody had a Happy Earth Day! As we celebrate this great planet we live on and look for ways that we can keep it a great place to live. Several ways include limiting our fertilizer use and recycling.

Almost all cities have a recycling program in place. In fact, about 40 percent of your trash (or more) does not have to wind up in the landfill. It is good to know that almost everybody recycles. If you still don't, now is the time to start so we can keep all this plastic and paper out of the landfill and reuse it to produce more plastic and paper without having to destroy more trees.

Our city has a great program where they just gave us huge cans to put our recycles in. Everything goes together and it is so simple to manage.

Many cities are writing ordinances to ban most fertilizing during the summer months. The reason is to help prevent run off from the fertilizer during the rainy season. This run off is a known toxic agent for our many beautiful rivers and canals. Do your part to help maintain our fragile ecosystem.

With the things that have been evolving with our earth, Earth Day is becoming more and more of an important event in our society. Earth day is a day we can look around and see all the wonders that nature has bestowed on us. It is also a great time to think about how we can protect and beautify our environment. This task can be as simple as planting a single tree to beautify our yard or possibly planting a colorful garden for all to enjoy on your property or even to donate your time to a local garden club to help beautify an area of your city or town. With the growing needs of our fragile environment, now more then ever, 2014 will be an important year to do everything we can to both beautify and balance our environment.

The idea of Earth Day was initiated in 1962 as a way to get people aware of what is going on in our environment. It all started with President Kennedy in 1963 when he took a five-day conservation tour of our nation. The first official Earth Day was on April 22, 1970. Since then, Earth Day has blossomed into a national celebration where people initiate ideas that can help make our environment more eye appealing and a better place to live.

With all the hype on how we are depleting our cypress forests by the use of cypress mulch, there are many other natural alternatives we can use that are both functional and also will save our natural resources. One thing we can use that we all have plenty of is natural grass clippings. That's right; grass clippings can make an excellent mulching material that you can use on almost all your plants and flowers. You do need to be sure, however, that your turf has not been recently treated with any herbicides. The herbicides may damage some of your tender plants. Place the clippings around your plants in layers. Make each of your layers thin and do not make it too thick, as the mulch will produce a smell. Apply the next thin layer after the initial layer has been allowed to dry out. As the clippings decompose, they will produce a fertilizing effect on your plants. The clippings tend to add nutrients back to the soil as they decay and work their way into the dirt.

Another great natural mulching material is pine needles. This material is not suitable for all plants, but is great for the majority of plants we use in this part of Florida. You can use pine clippings on any plants that are acid loving. This list can include ixoria, hibiscus, bottlebrush, azalea, gardenia, junipers, and banana trees along with many other plants that require a high acid content in the soil. Not only do many of these natural remedies save resources, they also save you money. Doing large areas of your yard with commercial products can cost a fortune. With the money you save on mulching materials, you will be able to purchase lots more colorful flowers!

Many of your favorite plants that you have in your yard can be easily propagated into new plants without the need to keep buying new plants. Roses are a great example of this. In the spring, you can choose cuttings that are healthy and green and they will make good candidates for cuttings. Using a sharp knife cut off the soft tip of the cane and then cut it into 4- to 5-inch pieces. Each piece should have at least two nodes and some leaves. Strip off the bottom leaves to expose a node, and then plant the cutting in moist soil and keep it in bright shade and high humidity. You can use containers covered with plastic bags, or set them in the ground in the shade and cover them with plastic jugs. Either method should work fine. Take several cuttings to be sure you have success with at least several. You are now on your way to propagating your own rose garden!

Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to hometowngarden@gmail.com or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com.

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