Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gardening for Change

*Note: this should have been a Daring Bakers post, but I am lame. My one attempt failed miserably, and with yoga training I have no time to re-experiment! Sigh.*

For the past couple of weeks (yes, it still counts if a week passes without a post!), we have been talking about climate change and agriculture. It's an interesting topic because the growing of food is both impacted by and contributes to climate change... very karmic. So we've covered the impacts on commodity crops like
coffee and the globally-important cereal crop corn, but now let's take a look at your backyard garden (yours, as mine doesn't exist).

On the gloom-and-doom side of things, even backyard gardening is going to get a bit tougher. Plant pests and diseases are likely to become more bothersome. Take the invasive Asian Brown Marmorated Stink Bug, for example, which decimated vegetable and fruit harvests in the Mid-Atlantic United States last year. The impact of these bugs is largely correlated with the amount of time they are allowed to play in the garden (and reproduce), which depends on warmer temperatures and increased rainfall that draws them out of winter dormancy. As temperatures and precipitation are projected to increase on the northeastern portions of the US, invasive pests will find a more hospitable environment. Watch those tomatoes!

In sort of neutral territory, your garden is not going anywhere due to climate change. Unlike some of these larger scale operations, home gardens and even small-scale farmers enjoy the benefits of flexibility and adaptability. Planting and harvesting revolve around frosts, rainfall, and sunshine. As drought periods might lengthen, substituting in more drought-tolerant plant varieties would be a good measure to take. On an individual level, timing your planting and choosing your varieties will make a considerable contribution to the success of your garden.

Finally, a home garden can serve as one of your own contributions to mitigating climate change. I wrote a little about this over a year ago, and now I want to briefly return to some of the benefits of home gardening. For one, plants take up carbon dioxide. While you probably won't compensate for your entire carbon footprint with a home garden, you can offset some of your food or travel simply by planting (down with the front lawn!). Also, if you grow vegetables for you and your family to consume, you can cut down on your own less local purchases. Well, honestly, what's more local than your backyard? As one blog stated, "One hundred years ago nearly everyone grew their own food." While maybe not completely feasible unless you live out in the country or on a farm, you still can start increasing your own food security and decreasing your food-related emissions food-print by growing your own (and adopting meatless mondays...another story, perhaps?)

Coming soon: West Coast Wines (+ Climate Change); my Back Porch Herb Garden...

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