What Gardening "Green" Means to Me
I have nothing against chemicals, I'm not keeping track of my "footprint", and I refuse to pay three times as much for a product that's "sustainable" or "organic". I'm not a liberal, (actually more of a moderate) I don't think Osmocote is evil, and I refuse to get bent out of shape about global warming until I'm finished making my own neighborhood greener. I'm an environmentalist, but I choose to start small and work my way up. I refuse to tell someone else how to live their life.
That being said, I'm focusing on making my garden greener before I spout dogma about rising sea levels. Being "green" actually makes a lot of sense, and anyone can do it without buying expensive products or knowing what the hell a carbon footprint is.
My garden is a wildlife sanctuary. I've never used pesticides in the garden, have only squashed a couple grasshoppers, and pack the plants in so tightly that the few weeds that do pop up are simply hand-pulled. In addition to numerous treefrogs, lizards, birds, and a snake or two, the latest visitor to my little ecosystem was this little baby box turtle!
Some of you might remember this little fella being posted on my Facebook page last week, so for you this is an encore presentation. For those of you new to the story, I found "Sheldon" by nearly stepping on his tiny shell! He was parked right in my path, in the middle of the sunny lawn, simply enjoying the sun and hanging out.
When I picked him up, little feet went flying everywhere in an attempt to run away from the crazy gardener, who was shouting at his mom "I found a turtle! I found a turtle!"... the crazy gardener was me, by the way. I felt like a mother who has waited months for the arrival of an infant. Okay, before you moms get mad, I know I have no idea what that feels like thankfully, but seeing this tiny creature in the cupped palm of my hand was like a gift.
You know, I don't get the big deal about gardening "green". To me, it's just common sense. My garden should sustain wildlife. Nature does just fine without any poison in the mix, and if a ravenous plague of katydids or lubbers comes my way, then that's just nature. I get over the pockmarked ginger leaves and filigreed elephant ears, and wait a week or two until new leaves push out, taking the place of those that were devoured.
I don't use synthetic fertilizer either, but not for the ideological reasons that some gardeners fervently preach. I simply want to improve my soil for the long haul, and by composting my clippings and using organic fertilizer, the organic matter improves my soil with each branch or pulled weed. Why would I want to throw free fertilizer on the street?
In especially rainy summers, we'll have so many baby treefrogs that it's hard to walk without stepping on some. Every ginger or Alocasia leaf will have it's own tiny green inhabitant, peeking out from the rain filled leaf axil, and bromeliads house entire condominiums filled with frogs, ready to gobble up all of those insects that I patiently let live another day. Competition is fierce for an infant treefrog, so the more insects that reside in my garden, all the better for my froggy friends. A greater variety of plants in the garden makes for even more froggy hiding places.
Those frogs also contribute to the dinner plate of the lizards, snakes, and birds of the garden, so by keeping those insects around and feeding the treefrogs, I've also made my garden much more appealing for black racer snakes, red tailed hawks and blue tailed skinks.
By putting up with a few weeks of ragged leaves, I'm rewarded with an ever increasing array of wildlife right outside the back door. I used to drive out to state parks in search of wildlife. Now I can just look out the window whenever I visit the garden!
All in all, I want to make the world a better place one turtle at a time.
Head on over to Jan Huston Doble's blog Thanks for Today for her Gardeners' Sustainable Living Project and win some prizes!