Gardening is a great way to get more healthy, organic, home-grown vegetables on the table. But those of us who love gardening know that it’s so much more. There’s something spiritual about digging your hands into the dirt and connecting with the earth. That’s why we should all be aware of the environmental impact that our gardening has.
True, most of the time home gardening is a great option for the earth. However, there are often ways that we can incorporate greener gardening techniques into our homes in order to reduce our natural resource consumption and reduce waste.
Here are some ideas that you can put into practice (if you haven’t already):
“There are many ways that we can
incorporate greener gardening techniques
into our homes in order to reduce our natural
resource consumption and reduce waste.”
Use a Rain Barrel for Watering
Irrigation is a constant worry for gardens. New plants need extra care, and often that means extra water. However, you can reduce your water usage by installing a rain barrel that catches the naturally-falling water for you to use later. Depending on where you live, this could either eliminate the amount of water you need to use from the utilities, or it could just provide a helpful supplement.
Some tips for installing a rain barrel:
- Choose a location that’s under a good spout, which you can alter and re-route as needed to channel water from the roof into the barrel.
- It’s usually most convenient to install a spigot in the bottom of the rain barrel. In this case, you’ll want to have the rain barrel level and elevated in order to make it easier to use.
- Plan for overflow. Often, the barrel will collect large amounts at a time. Sometimes, it’s useful to let the barrel drain into a safe place if this is the case and overflow in that specific area poses a threat to the house and foundations.
- There are some safety notes to remember when using a rain barrel: First of all, this is not drinkable water! Bacteria can grow in water barrels that can be poisonous to humans and animals. Secondly, check to see if your roof has been treated with zinc or chemicals in order to prevent algae growth; this could compromise the water if you want to use it on edible plants.
Make Your Own Compost
There are many processes in the natural world that protect and nourish new growth. In a controlled garden environment, we often rely on store-bought resources to replace those natural processes. However, you can also make compost in your yard in order to fertilize and protect plants. Compost introduces beneficial bacteria to your garden, diverts kitchen waste from the trash can, saves you money, and provides rich nutrition for your soil.
Some tips for starting a compost pile:
- You can make great compost simply by utilizing kitchen scraps and gardening waste. However, you must remember to never put animal products in your compost pile. This includes meat, grease, and dairy products. Egg shells are okay, but make sure they’re empty.
- There are numerous options for making at-home compost, from containers that you can turn regularly, to simply creating a pile in a corner of your yard. Either option works, but a container is useful if you’re worried about attracting pests.
- The most important thing to know about a compost pile is that you’ll want an even amount of green and brown items. Green includes grass clippings, most kitchen scraps, and weeds. Brown items include shredded newspaper, dead leaves, wood chips, or straw.
- Rotate your pile regularly to encourage the breakdown of all the elements together.
Alternative Pest Control
In order to keep your garden growing beautifully, it’s important to control weeds and pests that can impede the development of your plants. Pesticides might be the single biggest environmental problem that modern agriculture causes. Trace amounts in our food can be harmful, and might contribute to a number of human diseases. But it gets much worse when we look at the impact on our environment. Pesticides poison harmless wildlife, get into our waterways, and impede the life cycle of native plants and animals.
In order to make your garden a boon to the environment, instead of a potential threat, it’s important to work out other ways to keep pests and weeds out of your garden. Here are some ideas:
- Companion planting: This time-honored method has numerous benefits, even besides pest control. Planting marigolds throughout the garden can attract healthy predatory insects and deter insects that will feed on your plants.
- Border guards: You can also keep pests like deer and rabbits away by using fragrant plants like garlic, onions, and lavender around the border of your garden.
- Diatomaceous earth: By sprinkling this around the border of your garden, you can prevent slugs and snails from getting in and munching on your tender greens.
- Cayenne pepper: Sprinkling cayenne pepper around your plants won’t harm the garden, but it will deter insects and animals from digging around in there.
Guest post by Christine Hill
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