Eco-Friendly Tips For Gardening
Green Gardening Is Easy!
As mentioned in our last post “5 eco friendly tips for the average consumer“, spring is here, and us green thumbs are busy readying our garden plans. Gardening is an enjoyable task, and having a great garden will give you a sense of pride, and also some great curb appeal. Below, we’ve compiled a list of 6 eco-friendly tips to help you get the most out of your garden, while respective the soil in which it grows.
Eco-Friendly Gardening Tips
- Use a rain barrel to collect rainwater – Using a rain barrel with a spout or hose attachment can dramatically reduce the amount of yearly hose-water consumption, especially during the summer months, and as a happy by-product, will also reduce your utilities bill! Rainwater is much better for organic vegetable gardens as municipal water contains dissolved minerals, salts and chlorine. And it only takes about 1/4 inch of rainfall collected from the average-sized roof to completely fill a barrel! Just make sure to put a lid on your barrel, as mosquitoes love still water.
- Use cocoa shell mulch instead of bark mulch or fabric weed covers – Cocoa mulch, despite costing a small amount more than traditional ground covers, sees numerous benefits:
- Contains a greater amount of natural nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium fertilizers (NPK)
- The texture of the shells deters slugs and grubs from getting to your crops.
- Retains the moisture in your soil more effectively than typical bark mulch, due to a natural gum within the shells that is activated when it comes in contact with moisture
- Breaks down over time to enhance the color and texture of your soil
- They smell great! Although cats don’t seem to think so (another benefit! Keeps cats from doing their business in your garden!)
- Make your own organic weed killer – There are plenty of effective eco-friendly tips to keep weeds out of your garden, using readily available household products:
- Salt – Either drizzle granular salt over the weeds, or dilute with 1 part water, 1 part salt. Salt should only be used in places where you don’t want any plant growths, such as cracks in your sidewalk or driveway.
- Vinegar – Squirt (or spray) a bit of undiluted, pure vinegar (with 5% or more acetic content) into the weeded area.
- Biodegradeable, non-toxic dish detergent – Diluted with water. I have yet to try using condensed liquid detergent created from soap nuts, but I’d be interested in seeing if that is equally effective!
- Boiling water – That’s it! Just boil some tap water in a kettle (or in a pot over the stove) and drizzle over the weeds as necessary. Prepare for instant satisfaction, as those weeds shrivel up within a few minutes! When finished, try drizzling some cornmeal over the problem areas as a preventative measure; the cornmeal will act as a ground cover inhibiting weed growth in those areas.
- All of the above – It doesn’t hurt to make a organic and non-toxic super-concoction of weed killers by mixing in water, salt, biodegradeable dish detergent, and vinegar together in a spray bottle; in fact, this is generally what I do.
- Make your own compost – Compost improves the fertility of your soil, and provides a nutrient-rich food source for micro-organisms (and worms!). On average, half of the contents of the average kitchen garbage container are suitable for compost; things like vegetable cores and stems, eggshells, and spent coffee grinds (even the filters!) can be composted. If you don’t have a composter already, run out to your local home improvement store and pick one up. Making compost that yields dark, rich soil is easier than you’d think!
- Repurpose old plastic as a greenhouse – As far as eco-friendly tips go, this one is a bit unusual, but definitely worthy of making the list. I’m not suggesting that your build a full-sized greenhouse out of old bits and pieces of transparent plastic (unless of course you want to!). You can build mini-greenhouses for your spouting plants using the top halves of pop bottles, or by taping or gluing together translucent CD jewel cases.
- Make a water-wise garden – Having a water-wise garden doesn’t mean that you have to plant cactuses in your front lawn; although that would use up much less water. Water-wise means using recycled water (from a rain barrel or other source of grey-water) as well as using practices that will reduce overall water consumption. Here are some tips to help you maintain your own water-wise garden:
- Shade is everything – locating your garden near a shaded area is very important. Surfaces such as your driveway or sidewalk tend absorb heat and evaporate moisture in nearby soil. If your garden is located near a hard surface, see about getting some bushes or trees planted in that area to provide a bit of shade. As mentioned previously, cocoa mulch as a ground cover can be used to retain the moisture content of your soil, as well.
- Find suitable plants for your climate – I wouldn’t expect to be able to grow a tropical garden here in Southern Ontario, so it’s important to group plants together in your garden with similar sun, soil, and water requirements as suitable for your climate.
Thought for the Day
I’m sure there are many more eco-friendly gardening tips out there, but these are the ones that happened to pop in my head. Do you have some of your own eco-friendly tips? Why not share your eco friendly tips with us! We’d be happy to add them to the list! If you have any ways to share, please feel free to send us an email. We are always looking for new eco–friendly living ideas! Your feedback, questions, and comments are greatly appreciated.