My congratulations to the MSSU graduates; especially my youngest daughter and my first grandson that graduated together. May you both go out and make a great difference in the world.

My congratulations to the MSSU graduates; especially my youngest daughter and my first grandson that graduated together. May you both go out and make a great difference in the world.
Are we, home gardeners, just as guilty of doing harm to the land, air, and soil as the mega farmers?
It’s easy to sit back on our laurels and point fingers when that question is asked. Do I garden for me and the safety of the rest of the world? I want to believe I’m on the ‘righteous’ side of plant growing, but I’m still learning ways to be more protective of my surroundings; making that coveted tiny footprint.
I have a large tunnel house to grow winter food in. The tunnel house will save me the footprint of eating vegetables shipped from California or fruits shipped in from Chili. Yet, will the tunnel house skin being replaced every four years equate to a smaller footprint?
I pride myself on not using conventional chemicals in my gardening. Is that really making a difference? If I use bagged mulches, highly processed organic fertilizers, or an automatic irrigation systems; is it sustainable?
I’ve made changes over the years. I do use hay as a soil additive and mulch. The hay is old and would have been burned or dumped into a watershed valley. But, the hay was brought to me using fossil fuel for baling and transporting it. I use leaves in the garden and inside the tunnel house. Again, I use fossil fuel to cut it into smaller pieces before adding it to the garden beds.
All the table scraps are used as soil builders. Until this summer, I never used anything but a five-gallon bucket to hold scraps. This year I put in a recycle bucket that uses biodegradable bags to control the fruit flies inside the house. Convenient, but sustainable?
One thing last year’s contemplation brought about was using the broadfork for planting fall cover crops. The only fuel used is me and the tool is a once in a lifetime purchase. Since it takes longer to break the soil, that may be a negative to some. On the positive is the exercise I get, leaving soil biology intact, and the quiet solitude while working in the garden. And it is sustainable.
Remember to check your young trees during the winter months. I discovered some of the tree mulch had migrated too close to the truck of my Redhaven peach. Unfortunately, a field mouse or vole found the shelter of the mulch to its liking and had barked some of the trunk. I had put spiral wrap around the trunk to protect it, but the mulch allowed the rodent to find a way under the wrap and chew on it. I scraped the soil back and pushed the wrap deeper around the trunk. I believe the damage is minor and I shouldn’t lose the tree.  
Now is the best time to make changes for this coming gardening season.

Linda Simmons writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.