What I Did For Earth Day: Organic Lawn Care & Closet Purging

Earth Day is upon us. Unfortunately, it’s Tuesday and there isn’t a whole lot one can do to celebrate at work. (Though you might consider riding your bike to work.) But I was bound a determined to work in some earth-friendly activities, so I started out by waking up early and heading out for a nice long walk with the dog. It’s a beautiful day in Connecticut. The kind of weather that keeps us going when we are about to lose it in February. The trees are starting to bud, and birds are everywhere.

I can’t wait for the Lupines to come back this year.

Anyone who knows me, or follows this blog, knows that one of my favorite earth-friendly activities is organic gardening. But it just so happens that I am in a garden holding pattern. It’s too early to plant most things, so I have to settle for all those tedious chores that pay big dividends. I’ve been cleaning out the beds, and de-thatching the lawn for weeks. But now, I’m focused on improving the soil in my front yard.

I don’t particularly care for grass. I’ve been slowly removing it and creating ever-widening beds for bushes, trees, and flowers. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever get rid of all the green space, though, and so I’ve been trying to undue the damage done by the previous owner — who, I’m told, was fond of spraying Round Up all over the yard. That’s not the only problem, though. My soil is sandy and probably compacted. So sandy that trying to aerate last year did virtually nothing. Weeds abound, but there is hope. One side of my front yard, for reasons I don’t totally understand, has rather lovely grass that grow relatively well. And my backyard, which I basically consider to be one giant doggy-toilet does just fine.

I tried to put down some grass seed last spring, but it didn’t work out too well. The weeds were stronger.

Last year’s attempt at growing grass.

So, in the fall, my boyfriend helped me put down some sturdy, drought-resistant grass seed (after helping me apply some compost tea earlier in the summer). I can see the grass coming back, but it needed some help. So I ordered “Organic Lawn in a Box“. Last week I applied the first step, which is a corn gluten fertilizer. Corn gluten keeps weed seeds from germinating if you apply it early enough. I’m not sure I got to the lawn in time to save it from some of my more persistent weeds, but there’s another round of the corn gluten in the fall.

I can’t apply Step 2 — a fish-based fertilizer — until next month, and I was feeling a bit anxious to get something done on this beautiful Earth Day. So I headed out to the composter and started digging out the rich, dark soil from the bottom. I hauled a bucket full out to my small front yard and started top-dressing the saddest, most pathetic spots.

I don’t know if any of this is going to work yet, but after testing my soil only to find out that it’s neutral — not acidic or alkaline — I was at a loss for why it’s so darn awful. I had to do something.

But I didn’t just work outside. On Earth Day Eve I went through my closet and started purging my wardrobe. I have a work-related conference coming up and realized that I’d worn the same dress to every conference I’ve been to over the past few years. So I bought a couple of new “work appropriate” outfits. I work from home, so I usually just wear jeans/shorts and a sweater/t-shirt. I don’t need a lot of “business casual” gear. At the back of my closet there were plenty of ill-fitting and out-of-date pants and shirts that I hadn’t worn in years–not since my days in an actual office. I put together a donate box, and a consignment bag (or three–there may have also been some bridesmaids dresses involved).

I also moved to the closet in the guest room, which is where things I don’t know what to do with go to die. I decided it was time to take a good long look at what could be gotten rid of and I found some old throw pillows, some tag-sale find blinds that didn’t fit any of my windows, and some end tables to put up for sale on craigslist. I’m not getting any bites, so I may have to ride my neighbors’ tag sale coattails. If that doesn’t work, I’ll donate it or consign it. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

These may not sound like big steps toward being green, but if everyone made these kinds of changes in their lives, we would see huge reductions in waste going to the landfill and run-off polluting our rivers.

So what did you do for Earth Day? No act is too big or small.

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