Planting trees with kids and using compost

The idea of planting a tree with a child is a special one. Greeks long have planted trees, usually olives, at the birth of their children, but what a special event it would be to plant a tree together, once the kiddo's old enough to realize the significance of the occasion.


One of my friends (then a newly wed) in Georgia planted a grove of Black Walnut trees for his yet-to-be-born great-grandchildren. He figured that by the time they were full grown, the trees would pay for his descendants' college tuitions or businesses. I've heard of this practice in Europe, too.


Another friend (yes, I have a few more) told me about the hardwood forests surrounding certain castles and cathedrals in Europe. They long have been parks, but it was discovered that the original purpose of those groves was to supply the lumber for the buildings as the original timbers needed replacing. Pretty smart, eh? And they call it the Dark Age.


Say, how about a column about converting America's water-guzzling, chemically-pampered, environmentally-unfriendly lawns into low-maintenance, environmentally-preferred xeriscapes? Or wetland habitats? Or wildlife habitats (like mine)? Or at least tree farms? Anything but grass, unless you live in the grasslands.


Then too, why not cut food bills with fresh, organically-grown veggies from your own garden? Spokane has to have the worst soil (between sand and concrete) to grow anything but natives, so I built and am building still raised beds. First, I covered the turf with clippings and branch chippings from a tree I felled. Then, I shamelessly bribed a truck driver from a nearby construction site to haul in a load of regular sandy loam (I think it's loamy sand, but who am I?) Next came a load of topsoil and voila!


Finally, and I promise to leave you alone after this, there's the issue of compost. Why do we throw away such gold? It's so easy to compost, even for the laziest duffers like me. Most county extension offices are giving away compost bins once or twice a year. And what you can save on pick-up fees is significant-- at least $150/year in this area. Wouldn't that money be better spent fixing our leaky cars or replacing our old, broken appliances? Or giving our kids a good dental checkup?