By Emmy Ulmschneider, Master Gardener
Many of us make New Year’s Resolutions to start off the New Year. Often these resolutions are something that will benefit us such as losing weight or exercising more. But what if we were to think of resolutions that would brighten our day and improve our community? You could even think of these resolutions as combining individual physical exercise, mental relaxation, increased knowledge, and community benefit in one! So, thinking, planning, learning and doing might be the start of a sustainable 2023 resolution.
Previously in 2021 and 2022 we have written about why, and given some examples of what, we can do to increase habitat in our yards. We have given tips about planting vegetable gardens and perhaps most importantly we have written about what gardening and being outside gives to us. Here are five measurable, achievable, and realistic ideas to help you enhance the time you spend outside and make a difference in your yard, your lifestyle, and our community. And if you want to know more, there are so many references on the Permian Basin Master Gardeners website to help you.
So, as a starting point could you:
1. Plant 10 native pollinator plants in your yard. Whether you choose to enjoy native plants in pots on a patio, a small area of your yard or your whole yard, planting native plants does make a difference for the beauty and the energy and the life in your yard. Buy some guidebooks, teach a child, and learn to appreciate the life you share you yard with.
2. Make and use a compost pile. The average individual American wastes around 218 pounds of food a year. What if we could recycle this waste to improve soil in the gardens or pots, we already have? You not only save money, but you reduce the waste that goes to our community landfills.
3. Leave the leaves. Leaves are a natural insulator for overwintering native moths and beetles. So, give them a helping hand and be slow to remove their winter blanket. And if you can, leave the leaves on the ground as a mulch and to decompose and release their nutrients throughout the coming year. No need to use fertilizer to enrich your soil if you leave the leaves.
4. Take a walk on the wild side. Develop a sense of place by learning about how our home, the Llano Estacado functioned and how it has changed. In both Odessa and Midland, we have natural areas we can visit and enjoy. And these places can always use volunteers! Join an online citizen scientist project or volunteer to find out more about our native bees, plants, birds and animals.
5. And finally, commit to turning off your inside and outside lights at night for a month. Many of our native insects, need dark at night to thrive.
If you have questions, call the AgriLife office in Odessa at 498-4071 or in Midland at 686-4700.
Additional information, and our blog for access to past articles, is available at westtexasgardening.org. Click on “Resources”.