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Six Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day

The annual celebration of Earth Day promotes the message that everyone can contribute in a positive way to help preserve and restore our earth’s precious resources.  Here are five (no, six!) actions you can take that will positively affect your own corner of the earth:Bee on Rosinweed

1.

Email your U.S. Senators and thank them for passing (unanimously!) Resolution 109, declaring April 2021 to be National Native Plant Appreciation Month. This resolution recognizes the importance of our native plants to the conservation and restoration of our environment.

2.

Learn about the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program. This program, developed by the University of Florida, teaches earth-friendly practices you can accomplish in your landscape. Here are the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, which cover:

*choosing the right plant for the right place in your landscape
*how to approach irrigation to support healthy plants and save on water use
*the importance of organic mulch and how to apply mulch in your yard
*the benefits of recycling yard waste, including how to compost
*how and when to use fertilizer, plus when NOT to use fertilizer
*how to manage plant insect pests and diseases in a sustainable way
*how to create a “living” landscape by attracting small wildlife to your yard
*ways to reduce the pollution of our natural water resources by reducing the stormwater runoff
from your landscape, including how to set up a rain barrel
*how to protect our lakes, rivers and bays from pollution (for those who have waterfront property)

3.

Include children in discussions and activities that relate to conservation. They will learn to appreciate what they experience.  Immerse your children in simple fun ways:  Get large inexpensive magnifying glass and hunt for interesting insects; the designs of many insects are amazing!   Collect and identify leaves and create a notebook.  Online nature identification phone apps such as National Geographics’ “Seek” help children identify plants and insects. Help them plant seeds and nurture the growth of a flower or vegetable.  Encourage and join them in  drawing, coloring  or writing stories about wonders they can find in nature. Join the mailing list for The Learning Garden newsletter for more ideas.

4.

Read the book, Nature’s Best hope-A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard, by Doug Tallamy. This wonderful book is informative, easy to read, and even inspirational.  Learn how to create a beautiful and conservation-centered landscape.  No time to read?  Watch his YouTube Webinar, “A Guide to Restoring the Little Things that Rule the World”.

5.

Consider finding a space in your landscape to create a bed of native plants. Depending on the size of your yard, this bed could contain a tree, shrubs, grasses or wildflowers.  If you live in an apartment or patio home, you can grow native plants in containers.  Butterflies and native bees will find even small balconies if you supply them with native plant blooms.  For advice, visit a native plant nursery or see references below.Crystal Springs

And….now, #6.

Carve out a time during the week of April 22 to visit a local park, public garden, lake or a beach area.  Stop for a while now and then, and really experience being in a natural setting.  Quietly, be aware of the sounds of silence, broken by occasional birdsong or a breeze creating a rustling of palm fronds or tree branches.  If you visit a beach, observe the sparkling waters and listen to the waves.  It’s spring, and you should see colorful butterflies flitting around you, or possibly hear the buzz of a native bee.   Enjoy and appreciate nature; isn’t that what Earth Day is all about?

This article was written by Master Gardener Volunteer Molly Griner under supervision of the Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator and Residential Horticulture Agent Anne Yasalonis.

For more information, contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or visit us online at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/polk.  The Plant Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm to answer your gardening and landscaping questions. Give us a call, or email us at polkmg@ifas.ufl.edu.

If you are not in Polk County, Contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Plant Clinic.

The Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida.  The program extends the vision of the University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, all the while protecting and sustaining natural resources and environmental systems, enhancing the development of human resources, and improving the quality of human life through the development of knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and making that knowledge accessible.

An Equal Opportunity Institution.