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Are you afraid of geoengineeing? Do you think it’s all a conspiracy? Would you be surprised if I told you that it’s not the domain of mad billionaires but that we home gardeners can do it too too!
Geoengineering is sold to us as projects that are massive in scale, high in tech and very, very expensive but we can make our own contribution and empower ourselves in the process. All you’ve got to do is plant the right plants and put them in the right places. Except for seeding the skies with suspicious chemicals, we can emulate some of the basics, right in our own gardens.
Here’s a little ‘engineering’ course to empower you by helping you understand your garden a little better.
Step back from the wonderful biodiversity that you are already building into your life through having a garden. Then zoom into a beloved tree. What does that tree (or any other plant) really do?
Plants stay upright by water pressure. Too little water and the leaves droop and eventually the plant will die. So plants take in moisture through their roots and move it around internally for both the biological functions of life and to stay upright. The state of being upright through water pressure is called ‘turgor’.
To keep water moving, plants ‘exhale’ water vapour through their leaves in a process called ‘transpiration’. On warm days, the transpired water vapour absorbs heat from the surrounding air, cooling it. A little breeze moves the cool air and viola! You’re have a little air-conditioner.
Photosynthesis in the leaves make sugars from carbon dioxide, some of which go into energising life processes in the plant, some goes into storage and some travels down to the roots where they are pumped out into the surrounding soil to feed the soil organisms which, in turn feed the plant.
It’s a two way pump! Water one way, sugars the other.
Carbon dioxide from the air and from inside the plant (produced by Yeasts that live inside it) are converted through photosynthesis into sugars which take the internal journey mentioned above. Some become plant tissue, some move out into the soil and become integrated into the lives of the soil biota and becomes stored in their bodies. As parts of the plant and organisms die the carbon in their bodies gets stored in the soil.
Best of all, some of the carbon gets stored in you when you eat the fruit or the leaves of plants. Better than any didn’t government plan, hey?
A plant can block sunlight reaching the ground, preventing it from getting crazily hot on a Summer’s day. Add this to the air-conditioning effect and we are starting to see that plants can help us a lit as the planet warms.
Shaded soil holds more life, which means more biodiversity and even higher levels of carbon storage
Plants can block the sunlight reaching your windows and walks, keeping them a little cooler. Choosing the best plants for the job and putting g them in the right places can slash your cooling bill, requiring less overall water and energy, reducing carbon dioxide frim being pumped into the atmosphere at the power stations.
In the cold weather, plants can block cold breezes from reaching your house. They can even become insulators as they trap pockets of still air against your walls. That saves money and greenhouse gas emissions.
Some may argue that it’s not and it may seem that way when you look at an individual plant. Look at a whole garden, a street full of gardens, a neighbourhood full of gardens and street trees, a high level of canopy cover over a council area…you get the idea. It’s got to be better than spraying chemicals in clouds, doesn’t it. It also means that evil billionaires and corrupt governments don’t get rich from their grandiose technology and money driven plans. The agency stays in our hands, right where it should – at home and in your local community.
Ligaya Garden was designed with all of these things in mind. Of course, the original designs were tweaked as time went by, weather has gotten worse and food security crumbled. We learned as we went but we remain true to the core idea – let plants do the work, thrive and provide us with both food and a better life.
Check out our page ‘cooling with our garden‘ to get some ideas and inspiration.