Gardeners are the front line of defense in our struggle to tackle the problems of global warming, loss of habitat, water shortages and shrinking biodiversity. "The New American Landscape; Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening" is an impressive and thought provoking new book edited by Thomas Christopher which just crossed my desk.
You should get this book.
Most interesting is the chapter by David W. Wolfe, professor of horticulture at Cornell University and a faculty fellow with the Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future.
Here is some of his advice:
1. Improve nitrogen fertilizer use efficiency. For instance, consider clover grass mixes for your lawn instead of Kentucky bluegrass which has high nitrogen needs.
2. Increase soil carbon sequestration. When plants die and decompose, much of the carbon they have taken up as CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis becomes part of the soil organic matter.Building up and maintaining the organic matter in the soils is something gardeners should be doing anyway for soil health and crop growth, but this also serves to sequester carbon in the soil that otherwise would be in the atmosphere as CO2 gas. One way to do this is to till the soil less. Layer, don't till. Use the model of "lasagnia gardening."
3. Plant a tree. They take up CO2 and reduce emissions from air conditioning.
4. Recycle and reduce use of disposable products. For instance, use organic mulches, not plastic.
5. Reduce fossil fuel use. Don't let lawn companies mow your lawn when it's not growing, like in the summer, just so they can charge you and keep their workers busy. Mow less frequently and keep engines well tuned.
6. Use renewable energy sources.