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Your Carbon Footprint In The Garden

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 20 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Carboncounted Co2 Carbon Dioxide Compost

You might consider your garden the greenest part of your home and in many ways you’d be right. Apart from being a thing of beauty, your garden itself doesn’t put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

But have you considered making your garden more useful? Instead of being ornamental, it could work for you and actively help reduce your carbon footprint. As a small example, think about this: the more grass you have, the more you have to mow. In most cases, that means using an electric or petrol mower. Do that, and you’re adding carbon to the atmosphere. Buy a push mower and you eliminate that (as well as giving yourself more exercise). But take out some of the grass – or even all of it – and there’s less (or even no) mowing, and more room for plants or vegetables.

Putting Your Garden to Work
We all buy vegetables to a greater or lesser degree. But why not grow your own? It’s not rocket science; it doesn’t even require a particularly green thumb. There’s been a renaissance in people taking on allotments for precisely that purpose.

It reduces the amount of grass you need to worry about and helps reduce food miles –the distance food has to travel to reach the supermarket shelves. Both of those things cut down on carbon emissions, and let’s not forget the fact that you’re cutting your grocery bill.

There are other advantages, too. You can grow what you want, as long as it will work in the climate, you get really fresh, seasonal food, literally straight from the garden, and you know what’s gone into it, there’s no question of dubious additives. Plan well and you can have fresh vegetables, and don’t forget fruit like blackberries and raspberries, in season, with produce from late spring into the autumn.

Of course, it takes work and time, but the rewards are worthwhile. Build some raised beds in your garden, put in some good soil, and you’re ready to plant. You’ll have to weed regularly, and watch out for diseases, as well as some other basic tasks, but mostly you simply have to wait and hope the weather is right.

Growing your own food isn’t just helping the planet, it’s also immensely satisfying. When you cook something you’ve grown yourself, there’s a sense of accomplishment.

Compost
Something every garden needs, especially a vegetable garden, is nutrients. Compost is an ideal way to supply them, and it’s also a great way to cut down on your waste. When you put vegetable peelings, or any organic matter, in your bin, it ends up in a landfill. That produces CO2 and methane, which add to the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

So, by composting, you’re not only helping to produce vegetables, flowers and more, you’re actively reducing your own carbon footprint. Since you can put anything organic on it, you can eliminate a lot of the waste from your household, especially the kitchen.

Buy a compost bin, or simply make your own in a corner of the garden. Don’t forget lawn clippings and raked leaves, which are excellent, in fact anything biodegradable. Put in a little torn newspaper or cardboard so it doesn’t become too wet. As long as the balance is right, the compost won’t produce methane. It’s probably advisable to turn it with a fork periodically. You should find that the inside of the compost is quite warm, with the heat breaking down all the material.

You won’t have usable compost overnight – it can take up to a year – but keep adding to it so you maintain your supply.

These might seem like small steps, but a multitude of small steps make a long journey.

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