Fighting Climate Change in the Garden

Compost is the key to a healthy, productive garden. Adding organic matter to the soil also helps sequester carbon from the atmosphere.

An interesting article by my friend ecologist Steve Apfelbaum appeared in the Christian Science Monitor this week. In A Dirty Way to Fight Climate Change,” Steve and his associate, retired soils scientist John Kimble, remind us that one of the best places to keep carbon is right in the soil.

This idea is nothing new for organic gardeners. We’re constantly trying to increase the carbon content of our soils by adding compost and shredded leaves, minimizing tilling, and using mulches and cover crops. Garden soil with a high organic content grows healthier, more productive plants. What Steve and John are telling us is that it can also help the planet. Here’s how Steve and John put it:

“Scientific analyses show that recapturing atmospheric carbon into soil and plant communities is the easiest and least expensive method for mitigating climate change and that it provides many other economic, cultural, and ecological benefits. Restoring soils in currently farmed land can rein in 10 to 15 percent of the annual carbon emissions Americans create.”

Gardeners know best!

“We need to follow nature’s lead,” say Steve and John, “and put carbon where the earth has securely stored it for millions of years – in the soils. Among many other benefits, this will cleanse the atmosphere, taking a big bite out of the existing greenhouse-gas loads.”

PS. An editorial of mine was recently published in Vermont’s largest newspaper, describing a simple way for any person or business to think about steps to reverse climate change. To read it, click here.

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