My grandmother, Muriel, was a hard-edged, depression-era woman. She reused the tinfoil from her lunch wrappings. It is because of her that I am loathe to waste food, cloth, wood, anything. It is because of her that when I see large yards filled with nothing but lawn, I cringe.
Do you know what it takes to maintain a lawn? How many gallons of gasoline per year to keep that grass short clipped? How much extra water it takes to keep green plants that don’t belong growing in Florida’s climate? How many types of pesticides to keep at bay the white grubs, the fire ants (damned invaders), the beneficial creatures that no one loves, the wasps and bees and spiders? It breaks my heart.
What would it look like if every yard were filled instead with native palms and slash pines, with live oaks or sand oaks or laurel? What would it look like if everyone grew plants that belonged here or edible ones, no lawns for miles, but instead tomatoes and okra and arrowhead and cocoplums? What if we had neighborhood mills for all those acorns, to blanch and grind into flour? What if we ate from our yards, even in cities?
So much waste. I can only hold so many plants on my balcony, wanting to grow hedges of pomegranate, but only able to keep kitchen herbs. My tiny pots are at least an inroad. I will attempt to transform what little space I have into a hanging garden. I will attempt to keep our bellies full. I will attempt to gift my growings to others, who likewise see the potential of unwasted space.