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Coastal Gardening

Green ideas make sense in the home and garden

By Bob Hearle

How green are you? We boomers can recall our first introduction to green when Kermit the frog said "it isn't easy being green". Well it's easier today, and certainly more important. Many people hearing the term automatically think of recycling. Others think of replacing less energy efficient items with those of higher efficiency. Still others support the concept but are unsure of how or where to start. Let's look at the different approaches and determine which work best for you.

Replacement of less efficient items with more efficient ones can produce several benefits. One of which would be a more efficient system that will help save energy and reduce pollution. Reducing pollution can help to reduce the greenhouse effect or global warming. Replacing the windows in your home, for example, will keep your home warmer in winter and cooler in summer reducing the need for more energy. The immediate benefit would be a more comfortable home environment. In a similar manner replacing the automobile you drive every day with a more efficient model will save you 10 to 20 miles per gallon. Calculate the number of miles you drive each year, the average being 12,000, and multiply by the cost per gallon of gasoline (this often requires a crystal ball). The benefits of measures like these are obvious: the reduction of your energy costs, the reduction in air pollution, and eventually a better environment for yourself and your children. See, it’s starting to get easier.

As you know, there are many different options when it comes to recycling. Many communities provide optional trash pickups for people to recycle their glass, plastic, newspaper and the like. Several of our neighbors discovered when they recycle they actually have very little trash "left over." As a result several of them cancelled the regular pick up and share the savings with the group. Other people choose to take trash from their home and use it to start a compost pile.

Using recycled materials often requires 80 to 90 percent less energy to produce a new item from original raw materials. Again the less energy that one uses the more money one saves and the less impact there is on the environment. Nowadays supermarkets enable you to recycle your plastic bags by providing a bin in which to place them. Tire stores take your old tires and recycle them at by converting them to other materials. One example would be the use of ground up tires to produce mulch that is useful in children’s playgrounds. Many communities provide compost free of charge obtained by grinding up yard waste. Georgetown County discontinued its program because it had a hard time getting people to take the free compost.

Today many people are becoming familiar with the concept of home gardening. They are learning to grow their own vegetables and fruits, often from seed. The more produce you grow for your home consumption the less you have to purchase from a supermarket, and therefore the more money you will save. It also allows you to try different varieties of fruits and vegetables than you can commonly find in the garden center. Our community has an informal garden club where members get together and exchange seeds as well as cuttings and plants they've dug from their garden that they no longer have a use for. Such exchanges, again, allow the saving of money and introduces new varieties into the home garden.

I mentioned in a previous column the book entitled Lasagna Gardening by Patrice Lange available from Rodale Press. This is a well-written easy-to-understand book that shows you how to prepare garden beds for your home using very little expensive material but mainly newspapers, recycled items and grass clippings. It is certainly worth reading and using their tips.

Many gardeners currently have replaced their ordinary lawnmower blade with a mulching blade thereby reducing the volume of grass clippings that are produced and allowing those grass clippings to be used in compost piles.

Google has come up with several creative ideas to recycle or at least use less material and energy. They provide spaces in their parking garage where owners of hybrid automobiles can recharge their batteries while they are at work. They have also required that the workers reduce the size of the margins on the papers they type thereby using less paper and saving more trees. A good idea, no?

Planning a landscape correctly will also help the environment and reduce your costs. Consider the mature height of trees and how much shade they will provide to your home and plant in inappropriate positions. Effective placement of shrubs in the landscape will help reduce winds. These measures will help keep your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer and thereby save you money. Another way to save money and recycle is to install a home irrigation system. The water for this system should come from a well drilled on your property or a lake on your property, but not the lake on the golf course. Well water costs nothing to use and can be recycled, not so for water taken from the municipal water system.

All of the items mentioned in the paragraphs above are but a few that could be discussed or utilized by the home owner or home gardener. They certainly are not all inclusive and everyone has their own unique idea that would probably help others as well. In that regard this column welcomes suggestions from readers as to other ways to save energy, money and obviously help the environment, not only for ourselves but for our children as well.

Now after all is said, it seems the only issue is to change your mind-set and commit yourselves to a greener way of life. Isn’t that right Kermie?

Bob Hearle is a certified master gardener who lives and gardens at Pawleys Island.

Next: Plant hardiness and Zone 8B

Previous columns

  • Getting plants ready for spring
  • Reading your soil test
  • Prune plants for health and to promote growth
  • Seed propagation
  • Introduction / Soil tests

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