I propose that the next thing you add to your home to-do list on the weekends is the goal of growing something—anything! All the reasons and ways to grow flowers, plants, herbs, and vegetables—heck, even a tree once a year, if you can manage it—are of course too numerous to cover in one post. However, I’ll start with three benefits for both yourself and the planet.
- Build a green roof!
You might be wondering the purpose behind them, but there are actually at least several advantages to a rooftop lawn: they absorb rainwater; they can reduce your cooling expenses in the summer months by absorbing sunlight; they help insulate your home in colder months; and they can absorb sound, as well. However, in order to complete this undertaking, you must incorporate a waterproof seal, a roof-protection barrier, a drainage system, and soil—all of which are sure to add weight to your roof. So be sure to consult a professional who is familiar with these kinds of additions. Really, though, after the safety precautions, all you need is a little sod. And people have been doing that for a long time—a la Norway, Australia, and even old-timey settlers in the U. S. of A.
- Try your hand at a vegetable garden!
Although there have been a number of government initiatives for establishing national environmentally-friendly standards, how many of us set a standard for ourselves (aside from recycling) in terms of trying to plant things and reduce our carbon footprint by growing some of our food at home? You’ll save on transportation costs for trips to the grocery store because you’ll be growing some of your food at home. Ideally, you can also share some of your bounty with friends and neighbors, as well! Imagine it: you could grow potatoes, tomatoes, onions, squash, and basil fairly easily. Then, all you would need are some eggs and cheese, and voila: you have an omelet & hash browns, wonderful for a weekend brunch!
If you’ve never tried your hand at growing vegetables, you’d be amazed at how easy it is, given good timing in terms of your local planting seasons (visit a local nursery for advice on this) and the right plants. Heck, I started growing potatoes by accident—they began in the compost pile. I also buried part of a potato just as an experiment between a yellow squash plant and a pepper plant, and—voila! Potato plants were born.
- Grow some plants indoors!
Start with something easy, like a spider plant or succulents, which require very little water. Indoor plants can help improve air quality and provide a source of beauty, fresh culinary bounty, and aromatic stress relief during the long winter months—those times when going outside isn’t as frequent as in the spring and summer. Try growing herbs in a sunny spot near a kitchen window for culinary purposes, during the summer—and even in the winter! You might look around for a full-spectrum LED light to aid your plants in growing more speedily, when there is less natural light available to them.
And remember, if for some reason you don’t have the ability to install all LED and energy-efficient lighting in your place—like, for example, if your landlord is an old-fashioned curmudgeon who insists on original-style light bulbs for everything, or something—you can always strive to save energy in other ways. For example, turn down the heat in winter and go easy on the air conditioning in the summer. You can also take a cue from energy-efficient office spaces and unplug computers and electrical appliances at night. If you don’t feel like unplugging every single appliance, find yourself one of those handy-dandy power strips—but be sure to turn their little red lights to the off position—the reason being to prevent computers and lamps from using up “phantom power,” or electricity that gets tapped even when the power is off.
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And there you have it, folks: three ways to grow plants, vegetables, flowers, herbs, trees—really, all manner of green things—on your property. Whether they be long or short-term goals, everyone can grow something in the space they have. We’re all the better for growing things, regardless of the scale.
Photo Source: Normanack, via Flickr/Creative Commons