Sustainable Landscaping: the Time is Now

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Sustainable Landscaping

Sustainable, edible landscaping is a hot topic today from at least four perspectives:

    1. Are we providing food in a way that builds soil for future generations?
    2. What will that food availability look like?
    3. What are the consequences of pesticide contamination in our food supply,
    4. Finally, what are the consequences of over-developed land-use practices?

We are rethinking land use. While turning a lawn into meadow is a favorite topic of mine there are a plethora of ideas flooding our internet channels on how to do just that:  create sustainable landscapes that serve vital purposes for the planet and ourselves and other species.

Sustain, in its simplest form, means “to give support to or relief to.” Sustainability, in landscaping, contains in its core, principles, efforts, and practices that enhance water and soil conservation, rebuilding wildlife habitat and prevention of further land degradation and provide food.

Fact: land degradation jeopardizes biodiversity. Doug Tallamy, in Bringing Nature Home, reminds us that 4000+ species are in danger today.

Fact: World forest cover continues to decline at an alarming rate.

Fact: Communities in the western part of the US face severe water restrictions due to intense development. Overdevelopment and the use of showy botanicals, often not native to the region, decrease food, water, and shelter for many species and I include humans in that mix.

The desertification of the planet (over 1/3 of our planet has been turned into the desert) creates food shortage problems.

The good news is “more than two billion hectares of land worldwide offer opportunities for restoration through forest and landscape restoration.”  Calamity, hardship, trials often create the soil for innovation and that is happening today in the use of land. For example: while city rooftops have been known to contain gardens, designers, architects, and engineers are looking at ways to convert flat building box store rooftops into gardens that produce the food they can sell. Front lawns are being turned into diverse landscapes that can produce food.

We are only limited by our imaginations. It seems to me there is a renaissance occurring planet-wide. Renaissance implies a renewal of life, vigor, interest, a rebirth, a revival. My podcast guest this week, Bettylou Sandy reminds us that our front lawns can be transformed into pleasant gardens with food. Start with one idea and section at a time. Get to know your land through the seasons and weather conditions specific to your area. This knowledge base will lead to your success.

Pinterest abounds in ideas, great visuals that take us to great articles.

What are your ideas? Have you changed your backyard into a more diverse landscape? Share your ideas, share your pictures. I would love to hear from you. Happy Gardening.

Enjoy. Judith

 

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Michael Judd, Edible Landscaping

Description: I love folks who make the best use of their land spaces, incorporating trees, shrubs, flowers that increase habitat, and also food. My guest this week is one fantastic gardener who does just that. Michael Judd is the author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist: How to have a yard and eat it too. Join us for an engaging and practical discussion about creating mulch, adding small fruit trees, plant diversity, and more.

About My guest: Michael Judd, the author of Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist, has worked with agro-ecological and whole-system designs throughout the Americas for nearly two decades, focusing on applying permaculture and ecological design. His projects increase local food security and community health in both tropical and temperate growing regions. He is the founder of Ecologia, Edible & Ecological Landscape Design, and Project Bona Fide, an international non-profit supporting agro-ecology research.

Transcript: Michael Judd 

Blog: Wetlands are Ecosystem Treasures

 

Blog: Wetlands:
When I moved into my first home many years ago, I wanted to get involved in the town. Someone, I don’t remember who mentioned that the town had an environmental committee. Intrigued, I wondered what the town envisioned for itself environmentally.  I had an interest in recycling, practical ecological applications to preserve water, land and air.

It was no coincidence that around the same time, I subscribed to a magazine titled: Garbage. (Need I say more?) This magazine sought to discuss the latest trends in gathering garbage, storing trash, and how to dispose of the leftovers that could contain toxic materials.

One article, in particular, caught my attention and I remember the broad outlines of the story today which as you will see is pertinent to today’s discussion on wetlands.

A town in California needed a new water treatment plan maybe a sewage treatment plant. The estimate for a new facility was around $52 million dollars, costly for any town at that time., mid-1980’s. So, other options were investigated.

For significantly less money, between $2-5 million, folks realized that the landscape of the town and the surrounding area contained miles of marshland. They could develop a waterway system that kept the wetlands intact and at the same time collect purified water at the end of the line. Somehow, folks back then had the vision to realize that at least seven miles of marshland can filter and recharge water. My podcast guest this week, Gail Reynolds, reminded me of this story as I thought about the different types of wetlands and the ecosystem services they provide.

Basically, wetlands catch water from the surrounding areas, usually runoff from lawns and agricultural land uses. They capture nitrogen, phosphorus, pesticides to name a few. These components deposit into the sediment at the bottom of the wetland. Then plants can absorb these elements and convert them into plant matter. When this happens in the summertime, wetlands prevent contamination downstream.

“Wetlands are superb at purifying polluted water, replenishing aquifers and harbouring wildlife. But they are almost always terrible places to build houses. Only about 5 percent of the land area in the continental United States is composed of wetlands. But these transitional zones—neither completely dry nor entirely liquid—are enormously valuable, especially when it comes to controlling floods. Wetlands act like natural sponges on the landscape, absorbing and then gradually releasing storm waters and lessening flood damage.” John Mossbarger, La Jolla CA, in Scientific American also adds this: “Wetlands serve as primary habitat for thousands of wildlife species—from ducks to beavers to insects—and form an important ecosystem link between land and water. They also play a key role in maintaining water quality, as they filter out agricultural nutrients and absorb sediments so that municipal water supplies don’t have to. On and near shorelines, wetlands provide a natural buffer against storm surges and rising floodwaters, helping to disperse and absorb excess water before it can damage life and property.”

It’s estimated we have destroyed about 85% of our wetlands in this country. Wetlands: habitat for plants, animals, insects, offer water filtration and purification services, perfectly set up to manage flood areas. They provide invaluable ecosystem services and are precious.

The good news is that we are taking some measures to preserve what we have and what’s left.
What can you do? If you have wet areas on the property, learn how to manage them that preserves them. And, I just learned that there is World Wetland Day. This year its Feb 2nd. They have a great interactive website and educational materials available for you to use to promote awareness in your community. 

When out on hikes or walking in your neighbourhoods, keep an eye out for marshy areas. Keep in mind how limited they are today and how precious their ecosystems are in today’s landscapes.

Enjoy. Judith

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Meet Gail Reynolds, Plant Science Expert

Description: Gail is a plant scientist who loves bogs. Bogs are often austere landscapes, acidic, filled with peat moss and other mosses, not usually treed. She takes us through a not so well known landscape filled with levels of plant life and why they are invaluable. Join us for a fascinating journey into bogs where Gail highlights some plants that could be used in the wet areas on your property. At the very least, Gail opens our eyes to the variety of species that are found here, ones we can look for on future hikes.

About My Guest: Gail Kalison Reynolds, Middlesex County UConn Master Gardener coordinator, retired from 
a long career as an Information Security professional. She holds a B.S. in biology from Yale College and a Master of Forest Science degree from Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In addition, she holds five information security certifications. Gail is a long-time natural resource and Yale alumni volunteer, including Chair of the Haddam Conservation Commission, Officer of the Haddam Land Trust, member of the Lower Connecticut Land Trust Exchange, Haddam Plan of Conservation and Development committee member, Salmon Rivercommittee member, Connecticut Botanical Society board member, Executive Board member of the Yale Science and Engineering Association, Yale student mentor, and Yale alumni interviewer of prospective undergraduate students.
Gail is currently the State Coordinator for the UConn Master Gardener Compost Program.

Transcript: #75-Gail-Reynolds.pdf

Good News! Podcast Series, Holistic Nature of Us, Resumes

 

Dear Family and Friends,

Its been a while since I posted any podcast interviews or blogs. The past six months have been challenging. I recently lost my mother, 94 yrs, at the end of October. As her primary caretaker, I chose to be with her during her decline and then to say good-bye to her with family and friends. The holidays and the new year quickly followed.

Today I’m excited to tell you that I am resuming my podcast series Holistic Nature of Us. I enjoy interviewing and have spoken with so many folks across our country and Canada dedicated to finding solutions to the problems we face today. They have truly inspired me to keep going, to find more voices that support our holistic nature and the world around us.

I’ve got a great line-up that begins next week.
Agneta Borstein, a professional astrologer, returns. She offers her insights and wisdom for 2020 and begins my new season.

One of my favorite podcast guests Doug Tallamy, who also happens to be one of my most listened to podcast interviews, returns. He talks about his new book, Nature Best Hope just released this month and available on Amazon.

Where are we at environmentally? What’s happening in bogs, our wetlands? How does sound vibration heal us?

A theme I keep hearing over and over is one of Hope. How can we take action today so we grow hope for a sustainable future? I hope you will tune in again, and take some small action in your daily life to make a difference. Pick an area that speaks to you and do one thing to support it. One of my elders said this: “pick a local organization to get involved in, go to the meetings, participate and contribute. Pick one global organization to support even if it’s just a few dollars here and there.” (Oh Shinnah Fast Wolf)

Every action we take makes a difference.

We hope you will keep your comments coming. Are these interviews helpful? What topics would be important to explore? What organizations would you like to hear from?

I can only thank you from my heart for all your support, comments and kindnesses. Wishing all of you a prosperous, healthy, 2020.

Namaste. Judith

 

Podcast: Holistic Nature of Us: Doug Tallamy, Bringing Nature Home

 

Description: Gardening for Life:  “Chances are, you have never thought of our garden – indeed, of all the space on your property, as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S. But that is exactly the role our suburban landscapes are now playing and will play even more in the near future.”

Meet Doug Tallamy, who shares his research and extensive knowledge concerning the rapid decline of invaluable species due to our development practices. Can we do something today? Yes. He gives us practical tips for practical sustaining action. Join us for a timely and meaningful discussion.

About My Guest: Doug Tallamy is a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, where he has authored 89 research publications and has taught Insect Taxonomy, Behavioral Ecology, Humans and Nature, Insect Ecology, and other courses for 36 years. Chief among his research goals is to better understand the many ways insects interact with plants and how such interactions determine the diversity of animal communities. His book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens was published by Timber Press in 2007 and was awarded the 2008 Silver Medal by the Garden Writers’ Association. The Living Landscape, co-authored with Rick Darke, was published in 2014. Doug is also a regular columnist for Garden Design magazine. Doug is a Lifetime Honorary Director of Wild Ones and has won the Garden Club of America Margaret Douglas Medal for Conservation, the Tom Dodd, Jr. Award of Excellence, and the 2018 AHS 2018 B.Y. Morrison Communication Award.

Podcast Transcript: Transcript Tallamy.