While the global response to the Coronavirus has caused a great deal of disruption to our economy and way of life, the shelter in place order has created a positive impact on our Earth. Atmospheric pollution has reduced drastically. Wildlife has been reported to be exploring deserted streets. Seed and gardening retailers struggle to keep up with the demand for seeds and gardening materials as people are turning to their gardens to cope with crisis.
Atmospheric pollution in the San Francisco Bay Area and other cities that are sheltering in place has reduced drastically since the order began. According to an article by UC Berkeley, air quality researchers found that one key pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) dropped by half one week after the shelter in place order began. Additionally, the EPA reported a one third year drop in significant pollution levels around San Francisco. According to an article by Forbes.com, Stanford Earth Systems professor, Marshall Burke, found that this decrease in atmospheric pollution could result in saving the lives of many who would have died of complications resulting from air quality.
The decrease in human activity is not only impacting our atmosphere, but also wildlife. According to an article by
Newsweek, animals have been braving excursions to abandoned city streets. Boars snuck into Barcelona, Kashmuri goats have moved into the Welsh town of Llandudno, and lions were seen sleeping on roads in South Africa. While many generalized species thrive when human activity declines, some species who are more specialized and require human conservation efforts to maintain their habitats are suffering. According to an article by Wired Magazine, not only are those species protected by conservation efforts at risk but also those who are in danger of poaching. Conservation efforts have been able to protect the environments of many types of wildlife, and with the current lockdown many animals are at risk.
In our own homes, many of us are looking to our yards to help us through this crisis. After dealing with shortages of one thing or another at the supermarket many people have started their own edible gardens. According to an article by Huffpost, seed sales are up 300% and people are flocking to nurseries and hardware stores to start their own gardens. According to One Green Planet growing your own food creates independence from transporting using fossil fuels, reduces pesticide use, and avoids monocultures which all result in a reduced carbon footprint. If you are interested in container gardening, please go to our website for detailed instructions.
While this has been a challenging time for everyone, the lockdown has given us pause to reflect on the human impact on our Earth. Satellite images confirm the atmospheric changes without traffic pollutants, conservation and efforts for specialized animal habitats and protections for endangered animals continue to be needed, and home based gardening reduces our carbon footprint. We find that our impact is both harmful and helpful to our Earth and those who share it with us. It is up to us to reflect on our own personal responsibility and where we go from here.
With times as they are now, many people are wanting to start growing their own vegetables. But, they only have a balcony or patio. Many vegetables can be grown in containers! There are many reasons why growing in containers is actually easier than growing in the ground.
There are fewer pests such as grubs, snails, slugs and many more. Pests are easier to control in containers. It’s easy to provide a soil blend that fits the needs of each type of vegetable. The containers can easily be moved to fit the cultural needs such as sun and shade. Growing in containers is not as labor intensive. It’s fun to mix different vegetables with like needs in one container. Plant the taller ones in the center or to the back of the container and shorter ones in front. Best of all, you can try new and different vegetables, the ones you can’t readily get in the grocery store.
What to Consider
The amount of sunlight is the most important thing to consider. Most vegetables need between 4-6 hours of sunlight a day. If there isn’t enough sunlight, many of our favorite vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and melons can’t be grown. The best location is a south-facing spot but if that isn’t available, shade-lovers like lettuce and spinach can be grown.
Be aware that containers will need more water than in-ground gardens. They can be hand watered or a drip system can easily be set up.
How to Pick Containers
I prefer terra cotta containers but they do dry out quickly. Wood is an attractive alternative but it will rot. Be sure not to use pressure treated wood. I also like using wine casks but they can be expensive. I don’t like plastic containers but they are cheap, retain water better and are long lasting. I do recycle the plastic pots that nursery plants come in. I have a very large nursery pot that I grow potatoes in.
What Soil to Use
I use organic potting soil and it works well. Choose a soil that is well-drained, retains water and a pH close to neutral. I don’t use garden soil in my containers. Garden soil will compact in containers, leading to poor drainage and air circulation.
Good Choices for Container Gardens
Tomatoes: Patio Princess, Bushsteak, Sweetheart of the Patio, Marglobe, Baxter’s Bush Cherry, Sweet Baby Girl, Gardener’s Delight, Stupice, Tumbling Tom Yellow
Radish: Cherry Belle, Icicle, Champion, Scarlet Globe
Squaash: Scallopini, Baby Crookneck, Creamy, Golden Nugget, Gold Rush, most zucchinis
This article was written by Patti Berryhill, Garden Manager at Living Classroom. Patti has been working with Living Classroom for 6 years. She holds a Bachelor's of Science in Agriculture and an Associate's Degree in Environmental Horticulture and Design. In addition to working with Living Classroom, Patti owns a landscaping business.