Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother Earth Day!

Happy Mother's Day to the Mother of us all: Planet Earth!

For our April 2010 Washington Gardener Magazine Reader Contest we asked readers to send in how they are Earth-friendly in their gardens for a chance to win an ecotote. The entries were all so good, I awarded not on quality but by random drawing. The winner was Marth C Souder of Silver Spring, MD. Congratulations, Martha, your ecotote is on the way!

Here are some of the wonderful entries from DC-area gardeners:

It is my goal to make my garden Earth Day friendly EVERY day. This year I created a Mary Garden, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mother. This is my Mother's Day gift to MY mom, who is named Mary! There are various plants that are symbolically linked to the Virgin Mary and I plan on planting them after May 15th. While keeping this in mind, I also want to provide food for the hummingbirds and bumblebees, so I will merge these two themes together.

My garden is open to all creatures. I feed one, I feed all! Everyone is welcome to the seed and oranges that I put out. Because we have so many creature visitors, I also will not use herbicides or pesticides. I want Mother Earth to stay healthy!Keep the poisons away!
~ Martha S

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Here’s a few of the things I’ve done recently or am doing to make the environment a little healthier:
>Stopped growing things like cannas and pulled up weeds that attracted Japanese beetles
>Hang my clothes out to dry rather than using a dryer (beginning my third season)
>Installed a second rain barrel
>Transitioning from non-native, invasive species like barberries and yellow flag iris to natives like tricolor willow and turtlehead
>Shelved any rabies fears and decided to keep actively-used bat house in place on the side of our house (where they moved when we blocked them out of our attic)
~ Kathy T

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I am planting lemon queen sunflowers along the back edge of my vegetable garden to attract pollinators to my garden to pollinate my vegetables. This sunflower is supposed to attract bees. Along the front of the vegetable garden I plant zinnias which attract hundreds of swallowtail butterflies, also pollinators.
I plant small zinnias and very large ones. Last year the large ones were eaten by deer!
~ Joan R

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I am adding in edibles to provide fresh organic food , and improving my soil quality through regular top dressing with leaf compost. I chop up my autumn leaves and dump them on my garden, and never use herbicides or pesticides on my plants.
I share plants with folks who want them, and find new plants for my garden in all kinds of places including the curb next to trash cans.
~ Melanie I

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No Till: This year I am not tilling my entire garden to minimize the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I am only disturbing the soil where I plant my vegetables and flowers. The remaining areas will be bedded with organic mulch (leaves and grass clippings).
~ Mark M

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We just moved into Leisure World and I'm doing the best I can with the small outdoor area we have. Put all my bird houses on outdoor patio and planted several small trees and many butterfly perennials.
~ Gloria S

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Earlier this year, I had the good fortune to spend some time on the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. While there, I spent one one of the most memorable and relaxing days in a butterfly farm. The witty & dry, British ex-pat proprietor of the farm gave an earnest plea that when all the North Americans in the group returned home we do our part to help Monarch butterflies. Like so many species, Monarch are losing native feeding sources at alarming rates and in particular need access to more milkweed.
   I have a community garden plot in Old Town Alexandria, and this season I am focusing on attracting and feeding butterflies, and in particular, Monarchs. The butterfly farmer had a link on his website to www.livemonarch.org which for just a few dollars will send you huge packs of the kind of milkweed best for your region, along with seeds for other butterfly attracting plants. I've already got those seedlings going in my plot and hope soon to add a butterfly 'drinking fountain' - basically a low arrangement of rocks w/ water that they can alight upon and have a sip. I've also spread the word about the Monarchs to friends who garden and already have one friend on the West Coast who has started milkweed in his own garden.
~ Katya W

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I get teased a lot for my obsession with paper towels. Each Sunday I wash my veggies for the week and wrap them in paper towels. Instead of throwing them away I have them fluffed in a stack in a out of the way place. Then during the week I use them for wiping my hands after a quick wash, or picking up spills, animal mishaps etc. If clean enough and the material was ok, I can then compost it. Three uses from one towel that hopefully will go back to earth in my garden. I just started the third step this year since I didn't realize I could compost them until this year.
~ Faith H

How do YOU garden in a Earth-friendly way?

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