Social distancing means it’s a great time to get outside. Master Gardener Amy Kesavan tends to her flower beds.
Leaf blowers exacerbate respiratory ailments.
The author breaking down green waste in her backyard open-air compost bin.
Gardening in the Time of Coronavirus
By Melissa Grieco, Rye Garden Club Conservation Committee
During this unprecedented time of social distancing and self-quarantine, there is one activity we can engage in that is not only guaranteed to boost Vitamin D levels, fortify immune systems, and soothe frayed nerves but will also result in a healthier at-home environment for you, your family, and the planet. That activity is sustainable gardening.
Sustainable gardening is generally defined as gardening practices that save money by conserving energy, water, and time while also helping the environment. Now is the time of year when most homeowners are poised to begin their spring cleanups. With the Coronavirus pandemic keeping us all homebound for the foreseeable future, why not make spring 2020 the year to embrace some healthy, earth-friendly spring cleanup techniques? Not sure where to start? Several simple and easy gardening ideas and suggestions follow.
Lawn chemicals include a broad family of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, fungicides, and herbicides. These chemicals have been proven to damage ecosystems by polluting waterways and killing off everything in their path, including beneficial non-target species. They have also been linked to cancer in humans and canines.
Use natural compost or mulch to feed and fortify your soil instead of synthetic fertilizer. Pull up weeds by hand or, when that is unpractical, a cocktail of vinegar, salt, and liquid dish soap can be used as a spray to kill weeds instead of synthetic herbicides such as Roundup. There are many more organic lawncare solutions that can be found via a quick Google search.
Ditch the Leaf Blower!
Leaf blowers pose many hazards to both human and environmental health. These noisy machines emit hurricane force gusts of wind upwards of 185 MPH which propel dangerous particulate matter into the air, such as animal droppings, mold spores, fungi, pollens, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, brake-lining dust, tire residue, and heavy metals.
About five pounds of particulate matter per leaf blower per hour are swept into the air and take hours to settle, according to a widely cited leaf-blower pollution report. These airborne pollutants exacerbate respiratory ailments such as asthma, emphysema, hay fever, and other allergies.
Furthermore, the toxic fumes emitted by gas-powered leaf blowers include benzene, 1,3-butadiene, acetaldehyde, and formaldehyde — all known carcinogens. Leaf blowers have also been linked to a range of disorders, from high blood pressure to depression to heart disease.