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Earth Day celebration in Carson City

JoAnne Skelly
UNR Cooperative Extension

Every time we dig in our gardens or plant trees this spring, we are celebrating the earth. University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Carson City are hosting an Earth Day Fair, “Protect and Enjoy Carson City’s Natural Resources,” from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. April 22, at the Capitol Mall, to increase awareness of how each of us can wisely use and enjoy our natural resources.

Did you know the United States consumes 26 percent of the world’s petroleum, even though we only have 4.5 percent of the world’s population? Or, did you know that it takes nine trees to make the 730 pounds of paper the average American uses in a year?

According to the Audubon Society, “Homeowners apply an estimated 78 million pounds of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides per year to their homes, lawns and gardens. This does not include applications made by pest control and lawn-care professionals. Herbicide use is growing at a particularly rapid rate with homeowners using more than 50 percent more than they did 20 years ago. According to the most recent data reported by the EPA (1999), 74 percent of a total 103.9 million U.S. households use some type of pesticide – 58 million households using insecticides, 40 million using herbicides.”

Gardeners can practice integrated pest management to reduce their pesticide use. Integrated pest management is an alternative to pest control practices that rely exclusively on the use of pesticides. It integrates cultural, mechanical, physical, biological and chemical pest control, promoting healthy cultural practices, such as building the soil, properly fertilizing, efficiently watering, using mulch and choosing appropriate plants over using chemicals. The goal of integrated pest management is to manage pests and reduce adverse impacts of pest control on human health, the environment, and nontarget organisms in an economical way. Using integrated pest management strategies can reduce chemical pollution in our environment.

We can be green activists in our own yards. Composting is a great way to reduce materials going to the landfill while creating humus to energize the soil. Recycle newspapers by using them as barriers under mulch to prevent weeds. Or, shred them and add them to the compost pile. Use a push mower, hand trimmers, or a broom to reduce use of petroleum products and electricity. Plant water-efficient plants and install drip systems and irrigation timers to cut down on water use.

Come to the Earth Day Fair and find out more. If you would like to have a display at the fair, or would like more information, call 887-2252.

For information, e-mail skellyj@unce.unr.edu or call me at 887-2252. You can “Ask a Master Gardener” by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu or call your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at http://www.unce.unr.edu.

• JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.