Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Five ways to green your garden this spring



Nothing is quite so rewarding as growing a garden. It delivers daily delights of new leaves, new blooms, and the joy of watching delicate seedlings transform into robust and thriving plants. The exercise and fresh air are healthy. And, in the case of a veggie garden, your health and taste buds are richly rewarded come harvest time.
One of the best ways to thank the Earth for the blessings of your garden is to use eco-friendly products and techniques. Yes, purchasing organic soil amendments can be more pricey than chemical-laden standard varieties. The expense is well worth it, if you can afford the higher price. However, you don’t have to spend a fortune. In fact, some of the best green garden tips are not only Earth friendly, but they can also save you some green in your wallet.
  1. Drip irrigation – Yes, complex systems can become pricey. However, a few simple tubes, fittings, and a timer can be enough to create your own automated, water saving system. Less waste means a lower utility bill, and you’ll have happier plants with more consistent watering.
  2. Compost mulch – Again, there are benefits for many reasons. By composing your food waste, you can reduce your trash accumulation. Once the materials break down, you have one of the most nutritious growing mediums available. Compost can be added to the bottom of a planting hole, mixed in with soil, or soaked in water to create liquid fertilizer. It can also be added to the top, as an especially beneficial layer of mulch.
  3. Coconut coir – If you’re thinking about peat moss, think again. It is mined from virtually irreplaceable peat bogs, while coconut coir is actually a waste product of coconut farming. It is a natural, fibrous material with excellent water retention properties, and often less expensive than peat.
  4. DIY pest control – There’s no doubt, insects can do much worse than “bug” the gardener; they can destroy the whole garden if not controlled. But, that doesn’t mean you need to coat your growing salad with expensive poison. There are plenty of natural recipes, some as simple as organic dish soap mixed with water. Yes, concoctions of safe an inexpensive products in your kitchen do work. The key is not giving up. Natural formulas generally don’t kill everything in sight. They might be effective only for specific varieties of an insect, or they might depend on a warmer or cooler climate than yours. If you don’t get good results, move on to something else. Keep trying until you find the one that works like a charm in your garden.
  5. Trade ornamentals for edibles – Veggies are pretty too. And many flowers are edible. Why use up your garden space, water, and other resources keeping a patch of grass alive when you could grow your dinner, cut down on your grocery bill, and cut out the environmental toll of food packaging and transportation?

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