Eco-friendly gardening is easy with a few stepsKeeping your garden “green” is harder than it might sound. There’s the pesticide. The emissions from your mower. The invasive plants that drink up all your water.
By: By Dean Fosdick, The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
Keeping your garden “green” is harder than it might sound.
There’s the pesticide. The emissions from your mower. The invasive plants that drink up all your water.
So while getting back to nature may feel like a bonding experience with Mother Earth, that doesn’t mean you’re doing her any favors.
For the most part, creating an eco-friendly garden involves returning to the Earth as much as or more than what you’ve been taking out of it. Water, for instance. Soil nutrients. And it can be done on the cheap.
Here’s how to get started improving your own little piece of the universe:
ENRICH THE SOIL
Opt for minimum tillage when you garden, which doesn’t tear up healthy root systems. It also prevents erosion and saves unnecessary springtime spadework.
Renew tired topsoil with decomposed kitchen scraps, shredded leaves and rotting bark. That doesn’t mean eliminating chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides — but the garden-friendly insects and cash you save by going natural will greatly add up.
Layer mineral- and microbe-rich mulches and compost over vegetable gardens and flowerbeds at the start of each growing season. That helps the ground retain water while at the same time smothers invasive weeds.
Choose self-reliant plants well suited to the area, which will boost survivability.
Rotate vegetable crops on at least a four-year production cycle. That will discourage crop-specific bugs from returning on their destructive feeding rounds.
Use soaker hoses rather than less efficient sprinklers. Add rain gardens around the yard to eliminate runoff. Place rain barrels under eave spouts and use the stored water for irrigation.
Replace thirsty lawns and fast-fading flowerbeds with such heat- and drought-tolerant plant varieties as succulents. If you do intend to continue with turf, then buy grass seed blends tending toward fescues and ryes rather than the more moisture- and fertilizer-demanding bluegrasses.
Go retro by exchanging that noisy, smoke-belching power mower for a mechanical push mower. Shred leaves, turning them into compost rather than herding them with a gas-driven blower into piles destined for the local landfill.
Put Mother Nature to work. Use biodegradable pots for seedlings and then stick both into the ground, easing transplant stress.
Order garden supplies via the Internet rather than from catalogs, saving production and material costs. (Look to CatalogChoice.org, a free service telling merchants which, if any, of their print catalogs you want to receive.)
Plant trees alongside your house for use as windbreaks in winter and for cooling shade in summer. That saves on heating and air conditioning costs, respectively, and provides cover for many species of watchable wildlife.
Then go yard art one better by installing some utilitarian ornaments — a pair of clothesline poles, for example. There’s no greater symbol of being at one with nature than seeing some just-washed bed sheets billowing in the breeze.