Let’s Get Gardening

Help the planet and help yourself

El Dorado Nature Center: A sanctuary in the city.

People often wonder what they can do to “save” the environment. Some might recycle cans, others may turn the water off while brushing their teeth. Not many people, though, think about the benefits of gardening. According to the Long Beach Garden Club, aside from its positive environmental impacts, gardening is a great hobby to pick up and also a great form of exercise.

But, why gardening?

Some people think it’s too much work, or might even see it as boring or something that never gets finished. Kind of like that whole exercise thing (it sounds like a good idea but you never finish — or sometimes even start). That’s just the thing, though, once you get started and make progress with gardening, it gets better and easier. There are a ton of benefits to gardening and so many organizations, such as the Long Beach Garden Club and its man projects that help us see the “how and why” behind gardening.

The Long Beach Garden Club is part of the statewide group California Garden Clubs Incorporated (CGCI). The Long Beach chapter started in 1936 to promote amateur gardening and encourage conservations. According to its website, the organization was integral to establishing the South Coast Botanic Garden, the only garden created on a trash dump. The Long Beach Garden Club has been active in city beautification projects, reforestation efforts around California, recycling drives, tree planting and litter clean ups. The Long Beach Garden Club also advocates against public eyesores such as billboards, but it’s primary mission is, of course, gardening.

One of the Long Beach Garden Club’s major contributions has been to the El Dorado Nature Center, a 105-acre sanctuary tucked between the 605 Freeway and the San Gabriel River. Thanks to the LBGC, the Nature Center was able to cultivate native plants and vegetables throughout the preserve. The Nature Center is adjacent to El Dorado Park, a beautiful and serene place I was lucky to visit recently. The Long Beach Garden Club isn’t really a place, more like a club with monthly meetings who reach out to neighboring communities and projects. The Club wo

It is a huge park park with plenty of areas for camping, dog walking, and family leisure. There was an annual camping fest going on, and it was really nice to see all the families from god knows where gather around and enjoy each other’s company. I parked alongside a beautiful and calm lake and made my way around the park.

I parked right here!
After touring the park side I crossed the street to see the actual Nature Center. The Nature Center is amazing, birds were chirping, bunnies were hopping around and almost every 10 minutes I was greeted by a warm “hello” by the fellow tourists along the trail. I followed a floral and calm trail to a small cabin that served as a gift shop/information center. Inside, I was able to talk to Richard James who was one of the main attendants of the garden areas. He explained to me the necessity of gardening and the maintenance that goes along with it. I’ve broken down the interview by pointing out the major points that he and I talked about, which are as follows.
Global Warming: The world is getting hotter and there’s no secret about it. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, which helps trap heat and energy from the sun in our atmosphere and on the Earth’s surface. This is good for the Earth as it cools the Earth naturally and helps the planet from being ridiculously cold. However, since there are too many greenhouse gases, the Earth is having a hard time cooling down. So, what’s the solution? Gardening of course! Plants use carbon dioxide to make energy for themselves, therefore helping but not completely solving the issues of global warming. Plants in turn do create oxygen for us to breathe making air qualities higher and more abundant. With steady practice and the spread of gardening, global warming can become less of an issue and we will have more accessibility to quality air.
Sustainability: Richard explained the necessity of the ecosystem. Without plants, the animals have nothing to eat (unless they’re carnivores). What he told me was that with a flourishing and nurtured ecosystem, plant life, animal life, and even insect life are all able to coexist which sets a beautiful scene of nature. I saw this for myself at the Nature Center: rabbits hopping around unbothered and a wide variety of insects throughout the trail.
The red-eared slider is one of the many animals making a home at El Dorado.
But what about?: Many people are critical of the pesticides and weed killers that gardeners use, and yes those people make a great point. But to solve that problem many gardening communities recommend even safer ways to get rid of those annoying pests. If you think of plants like humans, the healthier you are, the less you get sick. If we take out the already infested plants, then we are preventing the “diseases” from spreading. Burning those plants is an easy way to get rid of those plants, or you can be even safer and start composting!

Weeding can be a bit tricky on the other hand. The easiest thing to keep weeds out is obviously spraying them with weed killer, but that’s very harmful to the plants you’re growing. By actually getting down and dirty with your garden, you can remove the weeds with different gardening tools or be smarter and use plants that discourage the growth of other weeds.

Instead of watching TV all day, gardening can become your new hobby

So, yes, gardening can be a little bit of work. But in the end you’re doing more than just planting some vegetables. You’re saving the planet one day at a time and you’re also helping yourself out quite a bit. The fun doesn’t stop there either, once you’ve already become acquainted with the gardening scene, you can go even further and start composting or do even more exciting projects like rooftop gardening or breeding other types of plants together. The best advice Richard gave was to start young! He stressed the importance of getting out and starting these practices at a young age, so that once you’re older you have a greater depth of gardening and plant life knowledge. Gardening is an art, and you can get quite the set up going once you become familiar with how it works.

The LBGC is open to anyone who would like to participate in the cause and meets regularly every month. With a little research, you can find some gardening clubs that are local to you. Instead of watching TV all day, gardening can become your new hobby!