Thursday, November 18, 2010

Will Prince William & Kate Middleton follow in the royal organic footsteps?

So the big news of the last couple of days, of course, is that Prince William finally officially proposed to his beautiful girlfriend Kate Middleton. As an eco-minded gardener, my first thoughts aren't of the glamorous nuptials themselves, but whether the couple will follow in the royal footsteps and be organic gardeners.

If you aren't into the "green scene", you may not know that William's father, Prince Charles, has been an organic gardener since before William was born.

When he bought the 1000 acre Highgrove estate in 1980, The Prince was adamant that it should be an entirely organic garden and farm and began setting out to make it so.

The gardens have been developed to be as self-sufficient as possible with all green waste recycled for use in the gardens as mulching material or as compost. Natural predators are encouraged for pest control and only natural fertilizers are used. His Royal Highness desperately wanted to protect and enhance the native flora and fauna which have been in serious decline due to modern farming methods.

Quotes from an interview with Prince Charles explain his deep love and commitment to the environment:

'Even in the 1960s, when I was a teenager, I hated what was going on - the endless tearing up and pulling down of all the wild places, many of which had taken hundreds of years to grow and were being destroyed in one day.

'It takes forever to recreate lost habitats. And I also felt the chemical approach to farming and gardening was not something that could ever last. 

'To me, it was just not sustainable in the long run. We have to rediscover the vital importance of working with nature.'

It is said that the Prince of Wales and Camilla even spent much of their honeymoon personally installing the plants they had received as wedding gifts. For passionnate gardeners like the royal couple, this constitutes fun.

Prince Charle's book, The Elements of Organic Gardening , touts many of the principles that we all could stand to incorporate into our gardens: working with Mother Nature, using natural predators for pests, hand pulling weeds, and conserving water. His new book and documentary, called Harmony, prove that his love for nature and the environment go much deepen then his passion for gardening.

"I believe that true 'sustainability' depends fundamentally upon us shifting our perception and widening our focus, so that we understand, again, that we have a sacred duty of stewardship of the natural order of things," said Prince Charles in a statement last year. "In some of our actions we now behave as if we were 'masters of nature' and, in others, as mere bystanders. If we could rediscover that sense of harmony; that sense of being a part of, rather than apart from nature, we would perhaps be less likely to see the world as some sort of gigantic production system, capable of ever-increasing outputs for our benefit – at no cost."

But will young Prince William and the lovely Kate be spending their honeymoon in the garden? Probably not. But I can personally attest to the fact that it is difficult to NOT inherit a love of nature and the environment from a parent that feels it as strongly as Prince Charles. So I wouldn't be surprised if someday, the beautiful young Kate and William start organic gardens of their own.

Another "green" activity for Black Friday

Yesterday, I wrote a post called Turn Black Friday Green, which suggested that purchasing locally grown Christmas trees is a great activity for Black Friday.

Another popular activity that is often carried out on Black Friday is hanging up holiday lights and decorations. Perhaps it is just an excuse to escape the hectic after Thanksgiving shopping, but many men will be pulling out the ladders and untangling strings of lights to adorn their homes for the season.

This is a perfect time for another "green" outdoor activity - cleaning the rain gutters.

Why is keeping rain gutters clean important to the environment? Because it helps to prevent non-point source pollution, one of the country's leading causes of water pollution.

During a rainstorm, gutters route runoff from a very large surface—a home’s roof—to where it can drain away from the house. Raingutters and downspouts allow us to direct that rain runoff where we want it -- to rain barrels, gardens, or permeable surfaces that allow the water to soak into and remain on our property. If we don't keep our gutters clean, water can overflow into the street, adding to polluted waterways and even flooding.

If you are going to have the ladder out for the "hanging of the lights", why not take the opportunity to clean your gutters.

1) When cleaning out your gutters, wear heavy gloves to protect your hands since gutters often have sharp metal edges or screws.

2) If you have rain barrels, you may want to disconnect them from the downspouts before you begin cleaning.

3) Choose a sturdy ladder, and place it on a firm, level base.

4) Scoop out loose debris using a small garden trowel or your gloved hands.

5) After removing all of the loose debris from the gutters, use a hose to wash the remaining debris and any clogs through the downspouts.

Extra green hint! Leaves that are removed from your gutters can be added to your compost!

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