Why perennials help save the environment

Dust Bowl by USDAgov

If TheGardenLady readers have not seen the documentary The Dust Bowl by Ken Burns, you should. It chronicles one of the worst man-made ecological disasters in American history.  (read this)  I think it is MUST watching.  You will see what planting just annuals in great expanses or overplanting with annuals in one area can do to our soil in adverse weather conditions like drought and heat.  This Dust Bowl catastrophe did not last one day or one week or one month, like the destruction from Hurricane Sandy. This dust bowl disaster lasted 10 years.

We may not have known that we needed perennials to keep the soil intact and to help the environment when they had the Dust Storms, but by now we should know what can happen when we despoil our lands.

This month’s The Atlantic magazine has an article by Wendell Berry, a farmer who lives in Kentucky, who wants the government to pass a 50 year bill on agriculture. He writes,

“This 50-Year Farm Bill which has been in circulation now for more than three years, is a proposal by The Land Institute in Salinas, Kansas, with the concurrence of numerous allied groups and individuals. This bill addresses the most urgent problems of our dominant way of agriculture: soil erosion, toxic pollution of soil and water, loss of biodiversity, the destruction of farming communities and cultures. It addresses these problems by invoking nature’s primary law, in default of which her other laws are of no avail: Keep the ground covered, and keep it covered whenever possible with perennial plants.”

Read the entire article here.

One way that you can support this is by seeing that you plant perennial plants, shrubs and trees on your property.  Even if you lost trees during the Sandy storm, replace them. Perennial plants save the soil.

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