The Covid-19 pandemic has severely limited what actions we can do to push for a livable future. In this time of quarantine and isolation, XRDC will be focusing on building the world we want to see by encouraging all of our members to step up their gardening activities! We’re beginning an ongoing campaign of spreading plants that provide food for humans and non-humans alike, as well as plants that can help us draw excess carbon out of the atmosphere. Even deeper than that, we want people to re-evaluate their relationship with the land and with nature. Plants are wonderful, and they can provide us with so much. They just need our love and attention!
We are kicking off the XRDC Planting Campaign on Earth Day, April 22, 2020. On this day, we’ll be encouraging people to take a wide range of actions. No matter where you are or what level of gardening experience you have, there are lots of ways you can help make DC greener and healthier! Earth Day is only the beginning - we will keep planting plants as long as the weather allows it.
Here are the ways you can plug into the XRDC Planting Campaign on Earth Day:
Join A planting Team
On April 22, XRDC will be sending out teams of 2-3 people, who will be planting trees and other native plants in underused spaces around the district. The number of trees we plant will depend on the number of volunteers who sign up. These small teams will be taking extensive precautions to avoid spreading the coronavirus, including gloves, mask, keeping their distance when possible, and having disinfectant on hand.
If you’re interested in getting outside, getting dirty, and putting some trees in the ground, head over to https://xrdc.org/plantingform and fill out the form, and we’ll be in touch! We will be communicating using the free encrypted messaging app called Signal - please download that so we can contact you securely.
start some seedlings
If you can’t make it onto a tree planting team, you can still contribute by starting some seedlings on April 22. If you want to participate, we recommend that you start preparing by acquiring potting soil (ask your neighbors, can also be purchased at a hardware store), collecting pots, saving cardboard egg cartons that can be used
We’re encouraging people to start tree seedlings on April 22 that we can plant in the fall of this year. You can get a head start by going outside and collecting some maple seeds! Those are the ones that look like little helicopters. They’re falling down all over the place, and they all want to be planted and grow into a big beautiful maple tree!
XRDC has also stockpiled some tree seeds that can be planted in the fall. If you’re interested in having us send or deliver you some tree seeds, please send us an email at email@example.com with the subject line “Tree Seed Request”. We have sycamore and elm seeds, both of which can be planted immediately.
There are lots of other seedlings you can start as well! For one thing, if you have organic seeds in your spice drawer, such as coriander, dill, and fennel, there’s a good chance these can be sprouted into beautiful plants. Avocados pits and lemon seeds can both be sprouted into house plants, although it gets too cold in DC to plant them outside (for now at least…). Organic, dried beans or lentils can be grown easily. Squash seeds will also grow into a majestic cover crop. And you can always buy seeds at a hardware store. It doesn’t matter to us, as long as you’re growing something!
If you’re new at gardening and want some guidance, we’ll be hosting an educational call with an experienced gardener on Wednesday, April 15 at 530pm. They will cover the basics of starting seeds and be available to answer any questions. You can register for that call here:
Once you’ve planted your seedlings, you just need to wait… And send us pictures! You can send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via social media. If you post to your own social media, please tag us and use the hashtag #xrearthdayplanting.
Get Ready to Collect some Cuttings
Many plants that grow around the streets of DC can easily be propagated via cutting. Cutting describes the process of removing a part of a viable plant, encouraging it to start new roots or stalks, and then replanting it somewhere else. It’s a form of asexual reproduction. Most plants in DC are more than happy to share some roots and stems. In fact, many plants will benefit from a cutting and grow back even stronger!
On April 22, we’re encouraging people to go out onto the streets and take cuttings of beneficial plants, so that we can spread them even farther across DC! We encourage you to scout out your neighborhood and try to locate some of these plants, so that you’re ready to do some cutting on Earth Day. If the plant is in someone’s yard, it’s probably a good idea to ask permission before taking a cutting. But most people shouldn’t have an issue with it.
There are lots of good candidates for cuttings. We’ve compiled a short list of plants to look for here, but there are many many more options!
Rosemary - great for cooking, easy to propagate. Crush up a leaf and smell it for help identifying!
Marigold - bees love this plant. Plus, it’s gorgeous!
Thyme - another great herb for cooking. Also has nice, fragrant leaves
Mint - a voracious grower, surprisingly versatile in cooking
Coneflower - beautiful native flower, loved by pollinators, and the leaves have medicinal uses
Lavender - beautiful, fragrant flowers. Looks somewhat similar to rosemary
If you’ve never done cuttings before, we encourage you to join our tutorial call with an expert gardener next Wednesday, April 15 at 530pm. You can register here:
Once you’ve started your cuttings you just need to wait… And send us pictures! You can send them to us at email@example.com, or via social media. If you post to your own social media, please tag us and use the hashtag #xrearthdayplanting. We’ll set up another planting day in a few weeks for everybody to move their cuttings outside in unison!
Consider other ways to get involved
There are lots of existing urban gardens around DC, and they all could use extra help with labor! Head over to the DC Urban Gardeners Network for more information about how to volunteer. Working at a local garden is a great way to build up community resilience and help to ameliorate some of the unjust food deserts in DC.
A key part of any long-term gardening effort is composting! We encourage people to look into composting dropoff options, available at most farmer’s markets, as well as through pickup services such as Compost Cab. But composting isn’t that hard - you basically just need to throw your food scraps into a pile and turn it every once in a while. For a great guide on starting up a compost system, check out this website.