In an op-ed in this morning’s New York Times, Thomas C. Cooper, garden designer and former Horticulture magazine editor, encourages gardeners to become ‘backyard biomass producers’ and feed their lawn waste into energy sector.
IF the government wants to reduce its dependency on imported oil and, in the words of the Department of Energy, â€œfoster the domestic biomass industry,â€ it has only to stop by my backyard with a pickup. The place is an unlikely but active biomass production center â€” especially at this season with countless autumn leaves eddying in every nook and cranny â€” and Iâ€™ll happily donate my production to the cause.
Is he serious?
I have two concerns with his reasoning:
- The energy we collect and store in the biomass of our yards is tiny compared with what we burn.
- That biomass is best usedÂ by being returned to the soils in our yards.
Cooper says he’s overwhelmed by how much biomass he produces. But do you know any other gardeners who complain about having too much compost? Sure, put your woody waste on the curb for local recycling. But for goodness sake, rake the rest onto your beds, around the base of your trees and shrubs, or put it in a modest-sized compost bin.
Improving your soil is a better use of that biomass than burning it.