April 24, 2014

Starting your Garden with Less Wasteful Starters

I wanna Be like Bill.  Not Murray, or Nye, or Cosby (or Clinton, or Moyers....this could go on and on...), but Bill my neighbor.  Eighty-one-year-old retired Statistics professor and Rolfer, he's been growing his veggie garden from seeds since his teens.  Contrast that with me - 37-year-old SAHM and doughnut eater, growing gardens from seeds since...never.  And since it's already April, there's a 0% chance I'll be starting this year.

So if I want a backyard garden, I've got to use starters and starters mean a trip or two the store and a bunch of leftover plastic waste.  So do I go all-in, borrow an SUV and drive across town to the farthest Home Depot?  Or is there a slightly more eco-friendly option?  I set out to answer that this morning.

Limiting the drive to 1.5 miles from my house (sorry Big Box home stores!), I found five options:  two grocery chains, one hardware chain, a local co-op grocer and a local nursery.

Being big on composting, I figured I would do what I did last year and buy the veggie starters that came from the chain hardware store in the biodegradable pots.  But today I also started paying attention to where the plants came from.  And darn if I didn't have yet another decision to make this week.  Because girls, it's preschool selection time, non?

The prices were comparable.  They were all close by.  I really wanted the compost potters but can that beat out locally grown plants?  And in Rehm's case, sold from a local store?  Nope.  And even better, the chiles from Whole Foods and Rehm's are sold by a group trying to improve an impoverished neighborhood just down the street from my own by starting and running an urban farm and store right in the middle of it.  As long as I reuse, return or recycle the pots, I think we're doing right.

Patronize any store than can grow a Magnolia
tree in Albuquerque.
You probably don't live in Albuquerque (if you do, ¡Hola, mi amigo!), so "what does this mean to me?" you might ask.  It's just a little nudge, maybe, to think about your garden starters from a less- to zero- waste point of view.  You might not have these options or you might "Be like Bill" and stick with seeds.  In that case, send me an email next January and get me to get off my couch and go plant some seeds.  Or at least go next door and help out.

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