Greening your gardening
Farmers, gardeners, plant producers: we all have a dirty little secret to tell y'all. A large part of our industry has a dark, unsustainable side from my perspective. While many of us practice sustainable growing for our food and ornamental greenery, our supply chain can betray us like it does in other industries.
First let's talk about pot...baby- plastic pots that is. At any time of year you can walk into your favourite garden store and find a plethora of plastic pots. This reality grows exponentially in bedding/vegetable transplant season when local and pop-up garden centres are flooded with seedling packs. All of these various plastic pots are made from our 'good' old friend oil. Of course, as we know oil is no friend to our environment.
So, what are we to do?
The easiest solution in terms of time is to recycle plastic pots and seed trays. Many municipal recycling programs will accept them in blue bags. Secondly, a notable amount of garden centers will take back empty pots & seed trays to reuse them and an added bonus some retailers give you money off your next purchase for returning them. Lastly, you can reuse them yourself, many transplant pots and seedling trays can be used well beyond one season. Alternatively, there is a wooden tool you can used to turn old flyers into seedling pots with the added bonus of being able to plant to whole lot right in the ground- preventing root distubance.
When considering the envrionmental impact from your farming or gardening activities, it is important to include transportation pollution. Retailers, for the most part, bring in all their seasonal transplants with environmental impacts from pollution depending on where they are travelling from, how they were produced--ie electricity for heat or grow lights etc. While as a consumer, we can't fully control where stores source from- we can influence stores by what we buy.
Fortunately, in the Atlantic region seasonal transplants are sourced from growers right in our region for a vast majority of retail operations. Also, some garden centres produce transplants on site and smaller business in your city may also raise garden transplants. As important as it is to buy local in food, art and clothing retail sectors; it is equally important to buy local for your horticultural needs.
Employing these tips and tricks will help to reduce your environmental impact while you grow from season to season.
What do you do to reduce your pollution footprint as a gardener or farmer?