Loosing federal drinking water protections mean we all have to work harder in our gardens not to compound the problem
Since the federal government is walking back what should be common sense protections of or drinking water, we all need to redouble or efforts to do what we can to protect our water quality and educate our neighbors about how important clean water is to our families health.
The EPA is planning to rescind rules designed to protect our drinking water from the discharge of dirty water with contaminants including lead and mercury from coal plants. It is hard to imagine how anyone could think that is good, especially considering “Utilities would need to spend about $480 million on new wastewater treatment systems, resulting in about $500 million in estimated public benefits, such as fewer incidents of cancer and childhood developmental defects,” according to the AP. For those of us who fish, and anyone who eats fish, this is worrisome because these pollutants also wind up in our fish.
With this in mind this fall we can work on amending and protecting our soil so our plants will flourish without synthetic chemicals that would wind up in our drinking water and compound the pollution issues.
Now is the time to put your garden beds to sleep. Remember, don’t leave your soil naked. Either use mulch (around plants in beds) or a cover crop (on raised beds or fields). I like dutch white clover on my raised beds. It fixes nitrogen, and is easy to uproot and turn over the soil. It also tends to pop up in my vegetable garden beds and keep tough weeds out. Fava beans are a cold weather cover crop favorite of mine. They produce well into the late fall and also fix nitrogen. Winter rye, cowpeas, and legume oat seeds are other options.
Other advantages to using a cover crop are they prevent erosion, protect and feed healthy soil bacteria and fungi, and help the soil hold water. This way the soil absorbs heavy rain to prevent flooding and has stored water during dry spells.
In my perennial beds I use mulched leaves. It does a beautiful job and is free. Pesticide free gardens allow good bugs to flourish, like this praying mantis that eats other bugs.