Thursday, October 15, 2009

Climate Change and the Home Garden

Today is Blog Action Day. Once a year, bloggers around the world write about a single topic. This year, the issue is climate change.

I can hear it now - "don't lecture us about climate change - we just want to talk about gardening." But here's the thing - our gardens are impacted by climate change, and we can impact climate change with our gardens.

For example, climate change can impact what plants will thrive in your area. The USDA plant hardiness zones are slowly creeping north. Check out this great map from the Arbor Day Foundation that illustrates this point. New weather patterns are forcing some trees, such as sugar maples north out of the U.S. This has severe impacts to the maple sugar industry, but it also impacts our beloved trees in our backyards.

Climate change also has an impact on birds - causing many species to move north and some to disappear. The Audubon website cleary demonstrates the impact of climate change on our native bird populations.

Finally, there is concern among scientists that global warming will make many plants, especially food crops, more suseptible to pests and disease.

So what can we, as home gardeners do?

Several things:

1. Plant a tree (or two, or three, or....): Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the most prevelant greenhouse gas. So the more trees you have in your yard, the better for the environment. No room for more trees? Donate trees to organizaitons like the Arbor Day Foundation to be planted on public sites.

2. Grow your own food: Food that travels fewer miles from farm to plate is better for the environment. No room for a garden? Visit your local farmer's market on a regular basis.

3. Ban all chemical fertilizers in your garden: Many fertilizers are made from petroleum products, which directly contribute to global warming. Start a compost pile and break the fertilizer habit.

3. Go meatless one day a week: The production of meat creates more carbon dioxide emissions than all the cars in the world. And, as living standards around the world rise, meat consumption is increasing dramatically. Use the bounty from your garden to eat meatless at least one day a week.

Climate change is a big problem, and there is no single solution. But if we all do our part, with efforts large and small, we can prevent the worst impacts from becoming a reality.


  1. Bravo and here, here! I've written a similar blog focusing on how climate change impacts Ohio.

    Great post!

  2. Hi TeresaO - Thanks! I really enjoyed your blog and in fact, I posted a link to it on The Sustainable Gardeing blog:

    Hopefully our efforts will move a few people to action.