Spring is here – it’s time to start thinking about lawns and gardens! This year, I am especially inspired by the White House announcement that there is going to be a new organic kitchen garden on the far end of the South Lawn. The White House is sending a powerful message to Americans: you can improve your health by eating fresh produce on a daily basis, especially produce grown organically, and you can grow your own produce to save money as well as your impact on the planet. Conventional produce has a huge carbon footprint due to the enormous amount of petroleum required to fertilize it, spray it with pesticides, and transport it to you. That’s why growing your own organic produce is so beneficial. Check out “This Lawn is Your Lawn“, a fun video about why you should convert some of your lawn into a produce garden. At my house, we’re pretty limited in the sun department because of the big trees, but we’re planning to double our usual 9×9 garden plot. The peas and lettuce seeds were sown today!
The other big step you can take is to ditch your lawn chemicals and care for your lawn organically. We converted about five years ago; it’s not significantly more difficult or more expensive if you lower your expectations a bit and pull a few weeds by hand. Conventional fertilizers and pesticides require a huge amount of petroleum to manufacture and transport. Once spread on your lawn, they don’t stay put, and they don’t break down within 48 hours as the little hazard signs lead you to believe. Some of these toxic chemicals will runoff into your storm drains and harm the drinking water quality and creatures in your watershed. Some of them will get tracked into your house where they persist for months while you gradually inhale and ingest them over time. Lawn pesticides which have been associated with cancer, Parkinsons, and other diseases, are especially unhealthy for children and pets. There are great resources on organic lawn care available on the internet to guide you. We have learned a lot from the information and videos on the SafeLawns website: http://www.safelawns.org/ .
Healthy lawns and gardens are better for you and better for the planet. So, replace part of your lawn with a kitchen garden or grow some produce in a community garden, and make it pesticide-free! In these difficult economic times, growing your own food and maintaining your own lawn can help you save money and regain a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency.