In the Garden
According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida’s approximately 47,500 commercial farms cover 9.25 million acres, and that’s not even counting backyard plots or community gardens. Whether you grow petunias in deck planters, chives on a windowsill, tomatoes and squash in a backyard garden, or oranges and strawberries for worldwide distribution, you can enjoy the fruits of your labor and protect the environment by adopting just one more sustainable practice.
- Compost kitchen and garden scraps to improve soil and reduce waste.Yard trimmings and food waste constitute 26 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream.
- Add mulch to reduce evaporation. Mulching reduces water needed in a garden by as much as 50 percent. Mulch has the added benefit of preventing weed growth, deterring pests, stabilizing soil temperature and providing nutrients to the soil as it decomposes.
- Harvest rain to water plants. Rain is free and good for your plants because it doesn’t contain hard minerals.
- Choose native plants that are adapted to the area. Native plants need less water.
- Check your hose and sprinkler connections for leaks – a drop wasted each second can add up to a couple of gallons each day.
Protect air quality
- Build a bat house. The drift of spray and dust from pesticides can expose people, wildlife and the environment to harmful residues. Bats can eat hundreds of bugs (mosquitoes, moths, beetles and grasshoppers) each night and their bug-patrol service is free.
Protect water quality
- Read the directions on fertilizers and apply appropriately. Overuse of fertilizers can contaminate surface water and groundwater.
- Go pesticide free to enlist the aid of pollinators in growing a healthy crop. Pollinators such as butterflies and bees are essential for high yield and high quality of many vegetables and fruits including strawberries, squash and melons. Butterflies, dragonflies and hummingbirds also add a lovely detail to the garden landscape. And bees make honey, a tasty addition to peanut butter sandwiches.