House & Home

Five ways to grow greener in 2015

Start your garden the old-fashioned way by turning backyard soil, adding compost and tilling by hand — it’s great exercise.
Start your garden the old-fashioned way by turning backyard soil, adding compost and tilling by hand — it’s great exercise. Tribune News Service

Chaos reigns supreme. Politics is nasty. Terror grows everywhere. Daily life revolves around the small screen of an iPhone.

When the outlook is bleak, it’s time to go back to our roots to find a counterbalance for stressful days and too much technology.

The comfort of wild places, the primal act of cultivating ground and the spirituality of coaxing what we eat from a plot in the yard can mend many wounds. Not only do they soothe our souls, they can help draw new generations away from the TV and computer through our example, which teaches much when we involve them in our actions.

If you accomplish even one of these suggestions this year, you’ll have started on the right foot. Do it with a child or grandchild, and you’re paying it forward for generations to come.

▪ Resolve to start a compost bin. Don’t throw any more vegetable matter into your garbage can when it can create fertile organic soil and relieve landfill burdens at the same time. Visit the home improvement store to find the perfect compost enclosure.

Try fully-enclosed tumblers if you have wildlife that loves to rummage in the pile. Try a compact unit for a city space. Or if you’re on a budget, build your own with recycled materials. This diversity is ideal for creating the right match for you, your home and lifestyle.

▪ Resolve to create a veggie bed. During the Great Depression, home gardens fed entire families without a single raised bed. Every home with a yard can easily support a garden, but don’t think you need to spend a dime to create artificial raised edges. It’s a fallacy that makes the money-saving activity of making a garden expensive.

Simply till up a sunny patch of backyard this spring, work in a bag of compost, then plant it. It really is just that easy.

▪ Resolve to plant your fountain. One of the first things turned off in drought are water features due to so much loss to evaporation. If you’ve got a Spanish fountain idled by water conservation, plant the tiers with cactus and succulents for a whole new look. It’ll grow lush and beautiful on nothing more than leftover drinking water you’d otherwise pour down the drain.

▪ Resolve to lose some lawn. Do away with illogical lawn areas like narrow driveway strips, curiously shaped leftovers or spots under trees now too shady to support sun loving turf. Study your home site to see if you have any lawn that demands much water and fertilizer and mowing for minimal benefit. Replace with swanky cobble or gravel or natural flagstone for trendy texture and color.

▪ Resolve to plant habitat. Instead of spending lots of cash on bird seed and feeders, why not replant your garden with food plant species birds and hummingbirds love naturally?

Locally native plants that feed these birds with their seed or fruit grow just as well in your garden as in the wild. Birds recognize the natives and will come to dine and hopefully build a nest for the season.

Every day it seems there’s a new tech device announced as though it is the salvation of humanity. Tragically it can just as easily contribute to our downfall as such gadgets foster greater dependence on devices rather than cultivating self-reliance. Knowledge of the natural world and experience in the garden is the most important way to achieve balance.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, so even if you’ve never grown a thing, now is the time to start. In the process you’ll spend more time outdoors and perhaps even lose weight!

Then discover how quickly you forget about current events, politics, terror and Facebook when that hummingbird comes up to meet you while you’re munching a freshly picked tomato.