Carbon Farming + Plant These Perennials!🌿
Carbon farming is an AMAZING method that can save the planet!! The method is aimed at sequestering atmospheric carbon into the soil, in crop roots, wood, and leaves. Increasing soil’s carbon content can aid plant growth, increase soil organic matter, improve soil water retention capacity, and reduce fertilizer use. It’s a win-win-win!
The fact that carbon farming could help reverse global warming is exciting and hopeful. The current agricultural system (both animal agricultures and monocultures) does not prioritize health, environmental, or climate concerns. The great news is many people have their own patches of soil they can tend to: in yards, community gardens, pots… all great places we can grow plants to sequester carbon.
If you have access to any amount of land (it can be super small!) you can do something right now to heal the planet. One carbon farmer estimated that his own tiny carbon-rich, 1/10th of an acre backyard garden offset the carbon emissions of 1 American adult… per year.
Perennials & native plants are a great place to start if one wants to get involved in carbon farming. Both are easy to care for and stick around for years! This makes it low maintenance & easier for carbon-capturing organic matter to build up over time.
Here are a few perennials that can grow almost anywhere:
Lavender is a member of the mint family and so robust it can grow almost anywhere. Plant it on sandy slopes or in the forgotten corner of the garden. Lavender is also drought-resistant!
Herbs A perennial herb garden is a wonderfully compact asset to any yard or garden. Many urban homes with no room for a full vegetable garden can still enjoy the beauty and flavor of fresh herbs in their landscaping or containers. Oregano, chives, and several varieties of mint can get aggressive with your garden space, so consider confining them in pots or a raised bed. Thyme, sage, lovage, and lavender are less aggressive with their roots. Lavender, rosemary, thyme, bay laurel, marjoram, dill, and oregano are native to the Mediterranean region. These herbs grow best in soils with excellent drainage, bright sun, and moderate temperatures.
Currants are hardy shrubs that produces handfuls of sour berries in shades of deep purple, ruby-red, and golden white. Currants thrive for up to 15 years and are easy to grow.
Blueberries are packed with antioxidants and vitamins. They grow as a sprawling ground cover or an upright bush.
Raspberries Dormant bare-root raspberries can be put in the ground six weeks before the last frost. Prepare the soil with at least two inches of compost and remove all perennial weeds. Unless you want to donate your crop to the local birds, netting is a must, ideally over a simple box-shaped frame.
Asparagus can be baked, boiled, grilled, or sautéed and still retain its intense flavor. But its most amazing quality may be that while it takes time to become established, it can live for 30 to 50 years.
Garlic is winter hardy, low-maintenance, and takes up very little space in a garden. An ancient bulbous vegetable, it grows from a single clove that multiplies in the ground. Most people grow it as an annual, but if you harvest only the big plants and leave behind the small ones, you’ll have a perennial garlic bed that regrows every year.
Walking Onions “walk” across the garden because of the tiny bulbs called topsets. These form at the tip of the leaves, making the plant bend over and fall. The fallen topsets then root and grow into mature plants the following season. The entire plant can be eaten, from the shallot-like roots to the topsets and hollow leaves.
Fruit and Nut Trees The best return-on-effort for the gardener has to be fruit and nut trees. A mature semi-dwarf apple tree, for example, may produce over 500 apples in a single season! Since these trees are a long-term investment, care should be taken in choosing the best location for planting. Fruit trees need full sun to thrive. Most also must have well-drained soil, though apples, pears, and plums are somewhat more tolerant of less-than-ideal conditions. And although fruit trees don’t like to be over pampered, they usually require some late winter pruning and thinning of the fruit buds in spring.
Interplanting perennials with annuals helps control erosion. Permaculture teaches us to value marginal edges and in-between spaces, and to challenge the idea that any space is “un-gardenable.” For example, low-bush blueberries will often thrive in barren, shallow soil which most vegetables can’t tolerate. Planning pays off: if you already have productive fruit trees with grass growing in between, consider sheet-mulching the area around the fruit trees now, with the aim of planting edible perennials in your newly-fertile soil next season. Now let’s carbon farm!