The Climate Connection: Regeneration begins at home | Lifestyles

LAUREN D. MUSCATINE

If you’re like me you feel challenged by the effects of a rapidly changing climate. Natural events lead to devastating loss of biodiversity. What is worse, our society is polarized on this issue and the world’s governments disagree on how to apply effective solutions. The situation seems hopeless and frustrating!

The current mindset advocates reducing all possible sources of emissions in order to avert climate change. Land uses and changes are major contributors to the problem, including methane from cattle, bogs, deforestation, nitrogen from overfertilization, and other human activities. Global sources of emissions, even land-based, could hardly include landscapes and gardens, right?

As a gardener, you may not think that you can take appropriate measures to prevent the effects of climate change, but there is a lot you can do. So where do you start?

When we grow fresh food at home, we reduce our carbon footprint by shortening our food supply chain. At the same time, we discover that our connection with nature is effective in reducing our stress levels. Converting your garden into a microhabitat saves water, enriches the soil and supports living species.

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If you act, you can revert to counterproductive habits, such as: B. buying an invasive plant or using toxic chemicals. Cultural conditioning can die hard. But with good incentives and the right information, you will make a difference. Consider taking these steps to turn your yard and yard into a small, powerful, ecological niche.

• Let go of your: awn: In the US, lawn irrigation uses an average of more than 8 billion gallons of water a day and in the west accounts for up to 60 percent of the water used during the summer months. Turning your lawn into a landscape of native trees, shrubs, and flowers – even adding an herb garden – will not only save you water, but also lower your water bill. This year, I redesigned two lawns as part of the Napa Resource Conservation District’s Lawn Replacement Program. Now I’m saving money, attracting pollinators, and creating healthier soil.

• Fertilize your soil: Healthy soil supports all life. To replace a lawn, cover the lawn with cardboard and compost. Plant nutritious catch crops such as broad beans, purple vetch, and buckwheat. Add mulch to keep unwanted plants at bay, retain water, and reduce erosion. The catch crop decomposes later when used as green manure. The soil is charged by the action of microbes, fungi and earthworms, the architects of the soil structure. By breaking down organic matter, the soil is enriched with nitrogen and phosphorus, while carbon is retained.

• Design for diversity: Plants are the basis of terrestrial food webs, provide food and shelter, convert atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen and bind carbon as an organic substance in the soil. Without plants, life on earth would contain only a fraction of the biodiversity we experience today. To support biodiversity, increase the types and amounts of trees and shrubs in your garden and focus on planting key species.

• Caring for Locals: When choosing plants to plant a garden or fill a garden bed, consult specialists from the California Native Plant Society, the UC Master Gardeners of Napa County, and local garden centers to help you make environmentally sound decisions.

• Plant for pollinators: some pollinators are generalists, others are specialists. (For example, the monarch butterfly is only supported by milkweed plants.) By growing plants that support endangered pollinators and specialists, we can also meet the needs of generalists and provide our best defense against the loss of our native native pollinators.

• Networking with neighbors: The past two years have brought us outdoors with more appreciation for fresh air and a healthier horizon. Neighborhood networks reduce waste, effort and additional expenditure and increase composting, salvage and recycling. Talk to your neighbors to share eco-friendly improvements in your garden, new knowledge, plant starts, seeds and garden materials.

• Connection through corridors: The connection of useful habitats helps species find food, shelter and breeding grounds. To turn our landscapes into effective biological corridors, we need to add millions of plants to our neighborhoods, corporate landscapes, and lands bordering infrastructure. Since most of the land in the United States is privately owned, many corridors will run meter by meter through our own communities, bringing us closer to nature.

• Saving seeds: Nature shows its regenerative power through the variety and abundance of seeds. When we store and share seasonally produced seeds, we encourage new and experienced gardeners to grow at home. This shared use increases local plant diversity and effectively adapts useful plants – whether grown for food, beauty or medicine – to our changing regional climate.

Through cooperation, supported by the intelligence of nature, our revitalized landscapes can develop into networks with good habitats in order to attract and preserve important plant, animal and insect species. In the community we can share and multiply our individual actions. Our once isolated garden areas are becoming a patchwork of improved habitats that support key species to protect themselves against the negative effects of climate change.

• Read “Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Garden”. Douglas W. Tallamy. Portland, Oregon, wood press. Sold through Thriftbooks.

• Visit ReScape, a non-profit promoting a cross-system regenerative approach to landscaping, www.rescapeca.org

• Participate in the Napa County Resource Conservation District’s lawn replacement discount program, www.cityofnapa.org/585/Cash-For-Grass

• Check out Soil is the Solution, a workshop from UC Master Gardeners of Napa County, napamg.ucanr.edu/Workshop_References_and_Slides

• Watch “Kiss the Ground,” a documentary aimed at creating awareness in society of the extraordinary potential of healthy soils, kisstheground.com

Tidying up after preparing a homemade meal usually involves throwing away leftover food or unwanted leftovers. Instead of throwing those kitchen scraps away, you could actually use them to give your plants a helpful boost.



Lauren Muscatine is a writer and editor at the University of California-Davis and directs the academic journal San Francisco Estuary and Watershed Science. She is President and Co-Founder of the Napa County Seed Library.

Napa Climate NOW! is a local non-profit citizen group advocating smart climate solutions based on the latest climate science and is part of the 350 Bay Area. Learn more from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter posts @napaclimatenow or visit napa.350bayarea.org.

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