To celebrate both Earth Day this Friday and April as National Gardening Month, let’s look at how we can work together in our yards to curb climate chaos. Here are some of the easiest and most impactful practices to adopt while enjoying the many benefits of gardening.

Composting

Home composting can have an enduring impact on the amount of carbon released per person. It helps the environment start a chain reaction; bringing natural soil life back into our yards and homes, decreasing greenhouse gasses emitted in landfills and creating a valuable product in a closed loop system. 

To start composting layer ‘browns’ (dried leaves, straw) and ‘greens’ (food scraps, yard, and garden waste) in a shady spot in your yard. Plan to turn it regularly, and water during droughts. You’ll know it’s finished when it looks and feels like rich soil, usually within 6 months. Bonus- a well-kept compost pile doesn’t stink!  

If you prefer to compost communally, Ramsey County yard waste sites are open for drop offs. *Take note that because of the threat of jumping worms, they’re not accepting dirt or sod.

Conserving Water

White Bear Lake is facing water restrictions like many other cities. The DNR recommended a 55-gallon per capita per day limit; we’re currently at over 80-gpcd. Remember to water early in the morning or later in the evening to make every drop count. 

Plant drought tolerant plants. There are many native prairie flowers that, once established, thrive without watering. 

Planting a rain garden in a spot that regularly collects water after a downpour helps water absorb instead of runoff. 

Mulching your gardens can conserve around 25% of water evaporation, plus add organic matter as it decomposes. 

Harvest Rainwater by attaching a rain barrel to your gutters. This can help keep water out of your basement and green your garden too. *MN Recycling Association has rain barrels and compost bins for sale at discounted prices for Ramsey County residents, use code RAMSEY at checkout to save $20. Contact them at recycleminnesota.org.

Controlling Pests and Diseases Naturally 

Using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices helps us learn about the pest or disease before applying a chemical solution. Many gardeners overuse chemicals or use them when they won’t help the pest or disease. IPM begins with learning more about the problem. Next, you’ll look at environmental, physical, and biological ways to address the problem before pulling out the spray bottle.  

The Ramsey County Master Gardeners have a phone line available at 6112-301-7590 to ask general gardening questions and talk you through options for IPM practices.  Visit ramseymastergardners.org for more information. 

Plant for Pollinators

Adding more native flowers can have a lasting impact for local beneficial insects. Leaving your perennial garden beds stand until temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees will allow time for overwintering pollinators to emerge as well. 

Gardening has seen a dramatic rise in the last few years, so now even more families will be able to make these changes!

Michelle Bruhn runs ForksintheDirt.com, a local food and gardening website full of ways to Dig Your Food. 

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