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We might still be surprised by late spring snowstorms in Colorado, but about now, gardening enthusiasts have begun to look longingly at seed catalogs and gardening books, thinking ahead to rows of verdant vegetables. But now there’s a reason to focus on gardens that our grandmothers would have understood.

Planting a garden has the power to change the world.

Since this week is Earth Day (April 22) it seems like a good time to consider our role in encouraging climate solutions that can draw down the earth’s carbon dioxide levels, and help keep the planet’s rising temperatures at bay as long as we can.

A movement known as Climate Victory Gardens has been quietly sprouting across the U.S. Simply put, it is an effort to instill sound gardening practices that can help our earth against the onslaught of impacts of climate change. Gardening is something in which both beginner and experienced gardeners can participate. With water and soil, just about everyone can grow a garden, and by growing things, you can take meaningful action on the climate crisis.

According to research, 8,670 gardens can absorb enough carbon to offset the emissions of more than 40 million miles driven by gasoline-powered cars. That’s a lot of emissions elimination.

The movement’s name is a throwback to another era; the Victory Gardens that were planted all across America during the World Wars.  The collective action of 20 million gardening Americans taken during WWI and WWII produced 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the country at the time. While the gardens of earlier times were planted to support victory in war, this time these victory gardens are focused on saving the climate.

Even beginning gardeners can start with some practical tips to help maximize carbon capture and minimize climate impact.

Grow food

  • Plant your favorite foods, share with your neighbors.
  • It’s important because: reduces food miles, decreases grocery bills, encourages seasonal eating, establishes a close relationship with where food comes from.

Cover soils

  • Here’s how: apply mulch, leave plant residues, plant cover crops, strategically allow weeds.
  • Why it’s important: decreases water use, curbs erosion, and protects local water sources.

Compost

  • Here’s how: compost kitchen and yard wastes, apply compost as fertilizer, share with your neighbors.
  • Why it’s important: repurposes waste, reduces methane (a greenhouse gas) from landfills, and increases quality of soil and nutrient density of foods.

Ditch the chemicals

  • Here’s how: fertilize with compost, plant companion crops, use integrated pest management.
  • Why it’s important: decreases pollution from production to runoff, reduces input costs, ensures your safety.

Encourage biodiversity

  • Here’s how: grow many different plants, feed soil life with compost, encourage plant-pollinator habitats.
  • Why it’s important: ensures healthy soils and nutritious foods, balances ecosystems, and keeps pests in check.

Follow this link to get answers to more of your beginner gardening questions: Climate Victory Gardens.

Look for Part II: Climate Victory Gardens on Saturday.

The featured image, courtesy of Climate Victory Gardens, documents the positive climate impact from  8,670 gardens. To learn five more gardening tips for seasoned gardeners, click here and scroll down the page.