Hibernate with a good gardening book. Winter is a great time for fantasizing about our spring gardens. As you settle into your favorite arm chair for a good read in front of the fire place, grab Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast and learn how to grow a garden in harmony with the earth.
As environmental stewards, we strive each day to reduce our carbon foot prints by doing the many things experts recommend such as recycling, turning down the thermostats, shutting off the lights, driving fuel efficient cars, and eating lower on the food chain. But what about the landscape? The answer is easy – by using sustainable gardening practices, we can enhance local ecosystems. If it sounds overwhelming, it is not. By merely mimicking nature and putting in place the elements of a thriving ecosystem, we can cultivate a garden that can drawdown the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and do our part to mitigate climate change. We can also restore biodiversity with native plants, renew our soils with homemade compost, minimize irrigation with a water wise landscape plan, reduce pollutants using vegetation, and attract pollinators and wildlife to doorsteps with a variety of native plants and trees. Another benefit of sustainable gardening is less work which means less time and energy spent dragging around hoses to water the lawn and flower beds and trying to figure out what spray to use on insects that are devouring our favorite plant. When you plant a landscape of diverse native plants, Mother Nature does a good job of keeping most insect pests in check. Essentially, the pests become food for predators that you attract to your yard.
Sustainable Gardening for the Southeast is a step by step guide for gardeners – from professionals to weekend warriors – who want to do their part to give back to the earth while creating an oasis of calm and beauty for themselves and their families. The book is written simply, vividly illustrated and based on scientific research. In the upcoming weeks, I will use this space to outline some of the most important practices for creating an earth friendly landscape. Stay tuned!
Susan Varlamoff is a biologist, an environmental activist and the former Director of the Office of Environmental Sciences of the University of Georgia. In addition, she wrote an Action Plan for Pope Francis environmental encyclical Laudato Si.