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Kaitlin Graham looks at a plant at the Home Depot garden center Saturday afternoon in preparation for some spring planting around her home. Brian Matthews | BEMIDJI Pioneer

Earth Day: Bemidji residents get jump start on gardening

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI- Earth Day has been celebrated for 42 years, empowering citizens to pursue change in their daily lifestyles and focus on improving the environment. Sunday's celebration brings a lot of people out to their local hardware stores to get a jump start on their spring gardening projects.

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The Minnesota Department of Commerce encourages people to think about their energy use in recognition of Earth Day by looking at ways to conserve energy and save money while saving the environment.

Bemidji Ace Hardware Operations Manager Bill Shaw said there has been an increase in environmentally friendly projects over the years and people are becoming more knowledgeable.

"Organic and 'go green' is more expensive but for some people it doesn't matter, they want the organic soil because of the chemicals and what they are doing to our bodies but for others who come in looking for organic they come in and are surprised by the price and then go with the regular products," Shaw said.

Shaw said the market for organic soil has increased because it is more natural and comes directly from the ground without the added chemicals. He said that organic soils are more expensive and require people to use natural manure fertilizers as food for plants to grow. For a cheaper, but still environmentally friendly product he recommend using Milorganite Fertilizer, which is made of recycled waste from sewage and provides lawns with a dark green grass.

"It is not poop in a bag," Shaw said. "It's the scale that builds up the micro-organisms and that is what they scrape off to make the fertilizer."

For consumers like Kay Murphy and her daughter Kaitlin Graham who did some garden shopping at Home Depot Saturday afternoon, Earth Day weekend is time to jump start some of the gardening projects. For Graham, she was buying a few plants to plant around a group of newly sprouted trees around her home to add to the aesthetics of her yard. She also grows a vegetable garden in the summer time growing tomatoes, cucumbers green beans and raspberries as a hobby. For Murphy, who lives on seven acres of land, she just likes things to maintain the natural environment around her home.

"I don't mow all of it because I think it's harmful. I like to let it go and leave it as natural as possible," Murphy said. "I just said enough is enough. I leave the dead trees for the birds and keep it as more of a natural environment."

Energy conservation is another way that Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman hopes to see people improve on. Simple projects and home improvements can reduce household consumption of gas and electricity; like simply changing a light bulb. Jim Leclaire, an electrical department employee at Home Depot said that the market for market for LED (light-emitting diode) has increased because of the long term savings that they provide.

"This last year the LED market has picked up a lot and it is getting to where people have to make a choice," Leclaire said. "CFL (compact florescent light bulbs) are going to be phased out because 'green' won't go near them because they have mercury in them."

In addition to changing light bulbs, the Department of Commerce offered a list of steps to conserve energy including sealing air leaks, making sure machines are running efficiently, installing a programmable thermostat, controlling hot water use and reducing stagnant power by plugging in appliances as needed.

Shaw said there is an increase in energy efficient and environmentally friendly products across the industry and though the price of these products can be high in the store, many young people are interested in the money they can save long term.

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