Green Gardening Tips

Helpful Hints on Going Green

If you want to do more "green living", try organic gardening! By making our gardens and back yards friendly to wildlife we can help struggling populations of birds, insects and small animals. Providing food and shelter for wildlife helps them get from one bio-friendly area to another. There are several different approaches and techniques used in organic gardening. You may find that you are using some of them already. If you have selected cultivars that are resistant to pests or drought, you are involved in one form of organic gardening. If you put out a scarecrow or bars of hand soap to keep animals away, this too is organic gardening. Compost can even help, as it is an organic fertilizer.

Organic techniques are around in many gardens already. By utilizing them more you can improve the environment and lead a healthier lifestyle.

Rain Barrel

There are different levels of organic gardening and different reasons why people choose organic methods. Some people are not opposed to pest control and extermination but they don’t want to add any more chemicals to the environment or to the food that they eat. Others go organic as a means of getting back to a more historic, natural, and even challenging way of gardening. You will need to decide which methods match your personal philosophies and reasons for going organic.

Here are some ideas to help you get started . . .

Harvest Rainwater

Adding a rain barrel is an inexpensive and effortless way to capture mineral- and chlorine-free water for watering lawns, yards, and gardens, as well as washing cars or rinsing windows. By harnessing what's literally raining from the sky, you'll not only notice a marked dip in water costs, but also a reduction in storm water runoff, which in turn helps prevent erosion and flooding. Pop a screen on top of your barrel to keep out insects, debris, and bird droppings, and make frequent use of your water supply to keep it moving and aerated.

Conserving Water

To prevent water from evaporating into the air, avoid using sprinklers, or use them very early in the morning. Instead, get water to plants' roots by using soaker hoses, or, better yet, put in a drip-irrigation system, which slowly releases water into the soil.

Bring on the Butterflies and Bees

Butterflies & Honeybees

Provide a sanctuary for our pollinator pals, such as butterflies and bees, by growing a diverse variety of native flowers they're particularly drawn to, such as wild lilac, goldenrod, and lemon balm. (Gardens with 10 or more species of attractive plants have been found to entice the most bees.) We're in the throes of a major bee-loss epidemic, which is causing beekeepers in North America and Europe great concern. Because pollinators affect 1/3 of the world's crop production a little hometown hospitality could go a long way.

Composting

To improve the quality of the soil in any fruit or flower garden without using fertilizer, make compost. Let fruits, vegetables and other non-meat, non-fatty kitchen scraps decompose in a compost bin. In the spring, after you've let your compost decompose for about two months, spread a half inch to an inch around your garden and let it break down into your soil. Try mixing nitrogen-rich coffee grounds into your soil, which promotes healthy leaf growth. Most Starbucks stores distribute free bags of grounds for your garden. Just mix the coffee grounds with dried leaves or grasses and apply it to the garden.

A word of advice:  Not everything can be composted.  Bark, weeds, treated lawn clippings, sticks, stumps, diseased plants, human or animal feces.

Composting
  • Food products that shouldn't be composted include:
  • Bread products: Cakes, pasta, and most baked goods.  Put any of these in your compost pile and watch the bugs swarm to it.
  • Cooking oils: They smell like food to animals and upsets the composts moisture balance as well as hurts the overall breaking down of materials from microorganisms.
  • Meat products: This includes bones, blood, fish, and animal fats.
  • Milk products: Milk, cheese, yogurt, and cream.
  • Rice
  • Walnuts: These contain juglone, a natural toxic compound. 

Composting can be made easier by having a composter. This product turns the composting matter for you, helps keep a steady temperature and keeps pest out. If you want to do it the old fashioned way, build a wooden, 3 sided structure to put your scraps in. You will need to turn your scraps periodically, as well as lift new debris to reach composted matter underneath scraps.

Mulching

Mulch protects plants from cold and heat, puts nutrients in the soil, keeps weeds from popping up and preserves soil moisture. (Maintaining healthy soil is the best way to prevent pests and plant diseases.) Add a one-inch layer and reapply a few times a year, when you see it disappear. Make your own mulch from yard waste, like leaves you shred with your lawn mower.
Mulching can be an art in and of itself.  When laying mulch, remember, more is not better.  Weeds will germinate in a thick layer of mulch just as easy as if you never laid it at all. Laying black plastic underneath your mulch is no longer recommended by professionals.  Soils become stagnant and moldy.

Conserve Power

Manual Lawn Mower

Outdoor lights don’t take energy-saving light bulbs, and so it might be time to think about how you illuminate your garden. Modern solar lights which are specifically designed for outdoor use are available in abundance, and they tend to throw off more light than their former models. You can also conserve power by using smaller equipment or none at all.  Tools such as electric leaf blowers don’t save you that much time in the long run so get the rake back out! Similarly, if you only have a small lawn, consider reverting to a manual lawnmower, the effect is just as good.

To sum it up...

A garden which is eco-friendly is a delight at any time of the year. It is buzzing with life and activity and you know that you are doing a bit towards the health of the planet. If you want to do more "green living", try organic gardening! Take time out to sit out in your backyard with friends and family, and appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy cultivating your environmental thumb!
For more information on the organic products Casey's carries, click HERE >