Reflecting on the many current issues and concerns, it is tempting to feel overwhelmed and rather helpless, to shrug off action with the attitude, “I’m only one person, what can I do?”
But even in your own gardens, we can do much to address the problems of modern life. We can make a significant difference in out individual lives, and gardeners collectively could have an impact on many of the nation’s problems. Now is the time to make a commitment to the future with resolutions we will carry through.
1. Fight inflation. A well-planned garden (30×50 feet), under optimum conditions, can be expected to yield up to $500 in produce (with no taxes to be paid). In addition, gardening is an inexpensive recreational activity that can be shared by the entire family. Landscaping can add 10-15 percent to the value of your property, and it is an investment that keeps growing.
2. Improve your family’s nutrition. The garden is not only an inflation fighter, it is a source of highly nutritional foods that tastes fresher and better when you grow them yourself.
3. Conserve energy. By properly landscaping, you can reduce your air conditioning bill in the summer and heating bill in the winter. Learn about the use of trees and shrubs to modify your environment.
4. Reduce pollution. Your landscape can be useful in reducing air and water pollution. Be careful that in caring for your plants, you do not become a chemical polluter. Many homeowners use more chemicals per square foot than farmers. Look for alternatives.
5. Protect the environment. Plan your landscape with food and shelter for wildlife, or incorporate wild flowers around your home. You will be richly rewarded. Do not take more from the environment than you return to it. Plant flowers for our pollinators.
6. Conserve water. Clear, pure water is a product of a complex system and should not be wasted. Never simply run cold water down the drain while waiting for it to turn hot. Save it for your houseplants or humidifier. Investigate the use of trickle or drip irrigation for your garden.
7.Improve our educational system. Kids learn from more sources than just their teachers. Give a child a plant, and teach him or her how to care for it.
8. Improve your community. Make your neighborhood more attractive by working with others. Start with an attractive, well kept landscape. If you have no space, plant a geranium or zinnia in a window box.
9. Improve your health. Gardening is great preventative medicine. Not only does it provide physical activity, it also relieves many of the stresses and tensions of modern life.
10. Show you care. Share your horticulture skills and products with a friend. Then, for a greater challenge, share them with a stranger—someone in a nursing home, in a half-way home, in the local hospital, or a disadvantaged neighbor.
If you are needing help in your landscape to have a more efficient yard, call the Bladen County Cooperative Extension 910-862-4591 or come by the office, 450 Smith Circle Drive in Elizabethtown.
Nancy Olsen is a horticulture agent with the Bladen County Cooperative Extension Office.