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Monday, February 1, 2016

A Sustainable Interlude: The Black Mangrove Experiment


Normally, I don't write about anything that doesn't somehow fit the "Fast, Cheap, and Good" model of sustainable living. Mostly, that's because I generally don't do things just for the pleasure of it; I like doing projects that have a definite benefit to me and my family.

When it's not gardening season, however, all bets are off, and there's a pretty good chance I will completely lose my mind at some point. This year, it is growing black mangroves.

Mangroves are a tree that grows in swampy land near the coasts in warm climates. There are a variety of species, each of which can handle a different level of salinity. The purpose of the mangrove is to create new soil (and therefore, new land) while it removes salt from the water to obtain fresh water for its own growth.  According to one expert I've spoken to, mangroves, along with detritivores like worms and sea cucumbers, are an important part of creating new land to replace the soil that erodes from the coasts. Mangrove trees can grow to be 60 feet tall and need to have relatively warm temperatures to survive, although they apparently don't require salt water to be healthy.

There is, therefore, no reason that a gardener stuck on the border of zones five and six should be trying to grow mangrove trees in the middle of February, but I am.

I don't know what I think I'm trying to do here, except entertain myself.  I think mangroves are some of the prettiest plants around, and I just love when they take root on the beach and start to grow on the sand. So, I ordered some seedlings, planted them in fine sandy soil, and am hoping they take off. If nothing else, the project will amuse me for a while.

I just hope I don't wind up with a 60 foot mangrove in my house.
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