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Reduce carbon footprint one plant at a time

We can't pick up a paper without seeing something about C02 and what it is doing to our Earth.

There is much we cannot change but, as gardeners, we can try to balance our carbon footprint. There are many lists telling how much C02 you put into the air -- from driving a car to even cooking a meal.

We live in homes that are more airtight than they used to be. We need oxygen to breath. We exhale CO2. Plants require CO2 to grow. If we have plants in each room, we will lessen our CO2 footprint.

Plants are also used to decorate our homes; I can't imagine being without them. They are even happy in your bathroom -- ferns like the moisture there. In a sunny room the rubber plant is happy. Spider plants seem to like growing everywhere. Palm trees are good for a large space, and English ivy will join other plants in a planter to do a good job.

Landscaping expert and TV star Carson Arthur says a three-foot by three-foot bed filled with the ostrich fern would use up the CO2 produced by one car. If that is so, we could easily use ferns to neutralize what our car produces.

The ostrich fern is a common woodland fern that grows easily here. It does prefer some shade. Some people grow them commercially to sell as fiddle heads when they first appear in the spring. They are a delicacy and fetch a good price. With their graceful leaves, they look nice in the landscape. They send out a dark brown frond that is filled with seeds. The fertilized frond will dry and is prized by flower arrangers. It will last for years and can be spray painted.

Trees are important. If you have an old one, prize it. One large tree can remove 26 pounds of CO2. An acre of trees will remove 13 tonnes of particles annually from our atmosphere. We can' t all live in a forest, but we can add a few trees to our landscape

An old proverb says that a country grows great when old men plant trees for shade that they will never sit in.

Trees that are good for absorbing and storing CO2 are: silver maple, oak, horse chestnut (or for a variation choose red buckeye), dogwood (we are fortunate to be able to grow several varieties of these in our area, such as kousa which grows easily and blooms with large white blooms), pines and blue spruce.

Any of these would be a plus in your landscape and not cause you much work.

I understand the trend is more to hard landscaping rather than gardening. A sign of those times is the closing after 32 years of Gardenimport, an important source of rare and hard to find plants.

A vegetable garden has the potential of using up 40 pounds of CO2. Of course, you also have the benefit of all the fresh produce. Each pound of fruit or vegetable saves two pounds.

As gardeners we have an opportunity to put more oxygen into the atmosphere and get rid of some CO2. Look around and see how you are helping. Give yourself so many pounds per tree and weigh your vegetables and fruits that you grow -- two pounds per pound of fruit.

GARDENING HINT

Tired of winter? It is time to bring in branches to make our homes look like spring. Wait for a day that is comparatively warm. Remember that you are actually pruning. Choose branches with plump buds - leaf buds usually look more pointed.

Choose from: cherry (four weeks until bloom), crabapple (four weeks), flowering almond (three weeks), flowering dogwood (five weeks), Forsythia (one week), pussy willow (two weeks).

Cut up the stems or crush them with a hammer, place in warm water and in a cool place. Change the water every few days (misting may help).

Last year was cold -- too cold for some buds -- and the birds and deer were hungry. If you can't find plump buds, they may not bloom this spring. Different varieties can take cold better than others.

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