1. You Can Help Our Garden Grow!
Do you consider cardboard and leaf waste to be a resource? Worms sure do. Cardboard and leaves provide a habitat to promote abundance for the living organisms under the soil because, just like us, they need to have a safe place to live and food to eat in order to thrive. Organic material such as cardboard, wood chips, mulch or compost added to the soil provide much of what these organisms need, allowing them to do the happy work of breaking down nutrients to make them available to our plants. This method is most commonly referred to as ‘no-dig gardening’ and uses what already exists in our soil to create an healthy environment and sustainable growth for our plants.
One benefit to no-dig gardening is that it is an organic approach, as opposed to fertilizers and other materials that may provide a large, but temporary, boost. Believe it or not, healthy soil also provides less opportunities for weeds to grow! Weeds generally grow in poor soil conditions, and some advanced gardeners can diagnose your soil problem just by knowing which weeds are growing there!
A personal heroine of mine, Heather Flores, writes about these organisms in her book Food Not Lawns:
“As they move through the soil, eating, breeding, interacting, dying and decomposing, they create a complex web of life that makes it possible to have clean air, clean water, healthy plants, and moderated water flow."
Soil health is quite literally the foundation upon which we lay our hope of our garden project becoming a thriving asset to our community. Getting this right is the first step to our project's long term success and determines the level at which we are able to serve you, our neighbors.
2. Free and Abundant Resources!
While technically any organic material will work to accomplish our no-dig goals, we are focusing on cardboard and leaves because they are so abundant and usually free. Amazon deliveries, store displays, and almost every food product in our pantries bring these materials to us daily. Diverting your personal cardboard from the waste/recycling stream is one thing we can do to lighten our personal load.
People have recently suggested, "You know, you can just get cardboard boxes from stores!" Yes, that's true! So, why are we asking you? Simply put, our neighbors are the people we want to most benefit from this venture. We think you might appreciate the opportunity to support our project from the start through simple acts of kindness, and know fresh flowers will brighten your day, each morning that you wake to see them. We believe in a personal connection and love the idea of coming together as a community to share a common goal.
As for leaves, do you already bag them for yard-waste pick-up? Do you use the byproduct of those leaves and yard waste once the landfill turns it into mulch? If yes, good for you for taking advantage of a great municipal program. If not, let us make use of the byproduct for us all. They can do good work right here in the neighborhood where they grew and there is no need to wait until Tuesday! We're happy to grab them from the curb whenever you would like to schedule a pick-up.
3. Reuse is Preferable When Possible!
You may be thinking, "I recycle my cardboard." And that's great news! Recycling is a wonderful way to dispose of these useful materials. According to Westminstermd.gov:
"Recycling turns materials that would otherwise become waste into valuable resources. In addition, it generates a host of environmental, financial, and social benefits.”
But when given an option, reusing materials is even more beneficial than recycling. As noted by the same website:
"Reusing products, when possible, is even better than recycling because the item does not need to be reprocessed before it can be used again." Taking out the reprocessing step for these materials results in less hazardous waste, energy used to manufacture an item, and air and water pollution.
4. We'll repay your kindness with a vast assortment of gorgeous flowers!
Here is a list of flowers we've already got in the ground.*
White with Black Eye and Bordeaux Anemones
Zeolights and Ivory Princess Calendula
Naomi Nazareth and Ethel Grace Sweet Peas
Multiple variaties of Peony
*This list is of course subject to change as our project continues to develop and experiment, but we’re excited to participate in a six-week flower farming course this November, created and instructed by an industry leader, Lisa Mason Ziegler, from which we hope to expand our knowledge, confidence and ability to grow!
If you would like to contribute cardboard or leaves to our project, please visit our Resource Exchange to schedule curbside pick-up!
If not for us…
If you choose not to donate to us the leaves that fall in your yard and the cardboard from your Amazon deliveries, we hope that you will consider composting these materials yourself! While the city of Westminster offers yard waste removal, it also encourages residents to compost as a first option. It's fairly easy to start composting, and your plants are sure to thank you if you do it right. Here is a great resources to check out if you're considering composting.
Good luck and thank you.