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The Use of Native Plants in the Average GardenJohn SeelyCascade Public Schools Gardens have long been the passion and necessary step towards the survival of many civilizations, the likes of which were, and still are, determined, educated, patient characters. Today’s community has constructed a stereotypical category for these people, a named trait that is not entirely true but has caught on immensely. These people have the “Green Thumb”, as we say, but the average gardener always has trouble maintaining a “flawless” garden and keeping their intricate plots, patches, and lawns in a salubrious state. There are, however, practical strategies that can be implemented into creating a self-sustainable garden, even without possession of a “green thumb”, one of which is the use of plants native to the ecosystem and area that you reside in. The use of native plants, local soils, and natural fertilizer can provide an immense help in growing a garden.To compensate for the sporadic weather where you live, native plants, as they have most likely been in the surrounding area for quite some time, have adapted to the area’s climate, wildlife, and soil conditions, whereas a domesticated plant has not. Adaptation can be a very useful tool when planning and planting, a garden. An example of an adapted plant might be White Sage. White Sage’s leaves have a waxy cover, reducing water loss, and are almost completely white, disabling the plant from getting too hot and losing too much water (Irvine Ranch Conservancy, 2014). Another example might be the Lemonade Berry. The Lemonade Berry’s leaves are curved, tough, and waxy, to maximize the amount of water it is capable of storing (IRC, 2014). Garden plants are just not able to compete with the adaptations and revolutions of native plants. They are introduced in so many places, and are usually grown in greenhouses with imitated conditions. The adaptations of these native plants can lower required upkeep for your garden, and can also allow, if planned carefully, increase the amount of time your garden can last throughout the year.In addition, native plants have also developed certain traits that can use their surrounding ecosystems to their own advantage, and have also allowed surrounding organisms to use them effectively as well. These plants often adapt themselves to attract pollinators, often certain pollinators native to their environment. We are advised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (n.d.) to plant a garden with a variety of colors to attract a range of pollinators. For example, hummingbirds are attracted to red, orange, and white tube-shaped flowers, and bumblebees are attracted to white, blue, and yellow flowers with pleasant odors. To to attract these animals to your other plants, plant plants of these colors nearby. They also advise to plant flowers that bloom at different times to keep pollinators in your garden as long as possible. As you have probably observed, pollinators are usually attracted to plants that they know are there, and therefore, new plants will not receive as many pollinators as native plants would. It is also important to include native decomposers in your garden as well. Fungi, worms, and bacteria are important for the making and maintaining of healthy soil in your garden. Remember to use native decomposers, as some that you might introduce could become invasive. As you can see, a structured ecosystem within your garden is very important, and letting organisms that have adapted to one another benefit each other naturally is another excellent stratagem to implement into a garden. These concepts, if used correctly, could be successfully implemented into today’s modern farming practices. A denomination of agriculture called permaculture uses many of the ideas mentioned in this paper, and is being adopted by groups of people around the globe. The goals and objectives of permaculture are to reduce humankind’s ecological footprint, to live a simple, self-sustainable life, and to, instead of using the land for our benefit, work with the land to yield benefits for both yourself and the land. A good role model for the permaculture community is Andrew Martin, an active permaculturist and author of Rethink: …Your World, Your Future. He left a career in finance to live a simple life in New Zealand with his wife. He currently cares for their small, and yet functional plot of land to yield enough food for him and his wife to eat, and then, eventually, sell for their profit (Osmond, 2016). Another wonderful resource in this area of work is the Lammas Ecovillage. Lammas is a pioneering “ecovillage” in West Wales. It is a group of people brought together to form a strong, close community. Their food is completely organic and grown by the community, and all other necessities, like soaps, clothes, and dishes are either locally made, or also produced by the community (Lammas – A Pioneering Ecovillage in West Wales, 2017). In this practice, native plants are used to establish a strong, biodiverse ecosystem for their produce, to restore the soil content of the surrounding environment, and to eventually create a, literally, self-sustainable ecosystem. The use of permaculture, and native plants, is an extremely obtainable practice, and would further improve subsistence agriculture as we know it.As you can see, because these plants and organisms have adapted to the extreme heat and cold, direct sunshine and heavy snowfall, and the dense moisture and the scorchingly dry ground, they are persistent and prevailing. Their tough nature makes them good organisms to implement in agriculture, both because they are strong and because they create a healthy ecosystem, attracting pollinators and good bacteria and fungi. Using these plants would be an extremely wise choice when planting a garden, or maybe even planning a permaculture food forest! I urge you to contemplate this subject, and to forget about your lack of a “green thumb”, because these practices can increase your garden’s life span, nutritional value, and ease of care dramatically.

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