Sunday, July 29, 2007


Yard and Patio Revolutionaries

If there is such a thing as reincarnation, I like to think I was part of the French Resistance during World War II - sneaking around gumming up the works in order to cripple a hateful regime.

As I mentioned before in my Seed Savers post, according to Terry Glavin's "The Sixth Extinction," ten corporations own about half of all the world's seed stocks. I do believe this is a regime that needs overthrowing, and we might be able to do it in a sneaky way. Do you have a yard? If so, why not allow your lawn to become diverse? Quit killing the plants that you call weeds. That's a start. How about planting a few heirloom varieties in your flower beds and gardens?

Now, here's where you can get subversive. Don't worry if it takes time to accomplish this next step. What you want to do is make your yard an unkempt haven for both plants and critters. This is subversive because there will be local ordinances and picky-icky neighbors who want you to keep your yard neat for their comfort. To go about this without raising hackles, you'll have to pretend that you are doing this in an orderly and purposeful fashion. Plant high-growing shrubs or bushes around the perimeter of your property. That, or build a fence with some pass-through areas for animals. You're trying to build a haven, not a prison. The shrubs or fence are an effort to keep up the appearance of neatness, which should appease the rest of the locals. Once the barrier is established, let most of your lawn go. Plant whatever you like - vegetables, flowers, trees, fruit, etc. If you prefer a controlled look, go ahead and landscape, although you'll want to leave some areas open to spontaneity. Use as many heirloom varieties as you like and try to go organic. Pick stuff that's appropriate to your region and doesn't need a lot of care. We're going for self-sustaining biological diversity. If you like a wild "natural" look, this will be easier. Just plant stuff and let it go. That's our preference and thankfully, most of our yard already has a perimeter of bushes that allow for us to let things go. We still have to mow the lawn periodically (when it rains), but we don't spend time weeding and feeding it. Because of this, all sorts of plant varieties have volunteered to mix it up with the grass.

If you really want to be subversive, see if you can change your local lawn ordinance. Have it allow for natural prairie plantings and other unkempt areas. Use the environment and global warming as your excuse. Point to other cities - like Portland, Oregon - that allow for mixed vegetation in yards.

For those without a yard, you can become a revolutionary by planting heirloom varieties in pots on your patio or in your apartment or on your roof, or wherever. Collect the seeds and plant more, or store the seeds. Put your plants outside, if possible, so they can have some fresh air and access to pollinators.

All we need to do is convince people that the aesthetic of a large expanse of uniform turf is outmoded and not good for the environment, and pretty soon plant diversity will return to the masses. Vive le resistance!

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