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Honoring Earth Day through everyday gardening habits

Embracing gardening practices that help the environment can look like re-using plastic seed pots and trays, forgoing even organic pesticides and sharing your knowledge.
Embracing gardening practices that help the environment can look like reusing plastic seed pots and trays, forgoing even organic pesticides and sharing your knowledge.

This Earth Day, embrace some more Earth friendly gardening practices, like reusing plastic pots, forgoing pesticides and planting pollinator friendly lawns.

This year marks the 54th anniversary of Earth Day. That's the annual event on April 22 meant to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Home gardeners can take part in supporting the environment by embracing a few practices each growing season.

Reuse and recycle plastic pots

You probably recycle cardboard, bottles and cans all throughout the year anyway, and you can expand that practice into your garden.

Nurseries are filled with plastic pots that we buy with our plants. Many can be reused multiple times, if cleaned. However, you can't recycle these "Number 2" and "Number 5" plastic pots in the usual ways.

Some nurseries, and Vermont Nursery and Landscape Association, offer recycling days around the state in summer when you can bring your pots to be recycled.

Move on from all pesticides

Make an effort to eliminate all pesticides (organic, too) from your yard. This will help pollinators and the soil. Try using more rows covers, mesh screens, interplanting techniques and containers to grow plants and to ward off pests.

Another way to forego pesticides is to utilize companion planting in your garden. That's when you plant certain things close to each other to deter pests.

More from Vermont Public: Manage Plant Pests And Weeds By Using 'Companion Planting' Methods

Reduce lawn size

Many gardeners are shrinking their gardens and lawns, but you don't have to make more gardens to reduce your lawn size. Try growing meadows, planting low-maintenance shrub borders or add some flowers to make your lawn more bee friendly.

Growing pollinator friendly plants, especially native ones, is great for the environment, but you don't have to rip out every plant that's not native. You can leave some of your favorites and supplement with some other natives or others, known as nativars. Those are variations of native plants that still will attract pollinators.

More from Vermont Public: Plant green, flowering ground cover for a mowable, pollinator-friendly lawn

Create little patches where you let the grass go unmowed (set that mower deck or your mower's wheels higher!) or let wildflowers grow for pollinators. Add in some shrubs, or if you do want to keep a full lawn, make it bee friendly by growing clover, thyme and prunella.

Share seeds, resources and knowledge

Share seeds, share plants, share knowledge! Team up with civic gardeners, church and school groups and teach other people how to garden.


Q: I love bee balm or bergamot, and I've allowed them to kind of overrun my garden and property, which is just fine by me. But I've noticed that after three years, it has kind of they stopped blooming or they stopped growing in the same spots.. How can I get them to take over again the original spot? How can I get some to grow there again? Do I need to dig it all up or just lay out cardboard and put new plugs of the plants? - Anna, in Granby, Quebec

A: Fortunately, bee balm or wild bergamot is very forgiving. You can dig all of the plants up, cut them into smaller groups, even put them in pots. If you do dig them up, start fresh with new soil. Then you can renovate that bee balm bed that maybe has gotten overgrown.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your question via email, to, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.