You’d think that gardening would go hand in hand with being green and eco friendly. But as a beginner, going green is a little more complicated. We have a list of fertilizers and weed killers at hand that will help turbo charge us into becoming amazing gardeners, so there are temptations lurking that would take us in the opposite direction. And, too, a lot of the eco options out there require a lot more research and time.
I’m a firm believer in being eco-friendly in whatever way I can. I use a homemade cleaning spray made of vinegar, water and eucalyptus oil; I use baking powder and lemon any chance I can; I even make my own hairspray. But coming around to applying it to my garden is a lot harder. I find that it’s a step-by-step process and sometimes you have to take it slow.
Basics of Green Gardening
1. Buy a rain barrel. You will save money, you will get more exercise making trips with your watering can and you will be much more conservative with your water usage. My favourite part is saving money. There are so many amazing ways to be earth friendly and save money. It’s sort of like immediate karma.
2. Compost. I almost wrote, buy a composter, but you can be even more earth friendly by reusing a rain barrel or building one out of old wood. That may be more for the intermediate gardener though, so don’t fret if you find yourself buying a new one. They’re usually more efficient because they are black (which cooks the compost faster) and are set up to avoid smell and animal interference.
This is another double dip into the well of goodness. You get to reduce waste by putting your kitchen scraps and old leaves to good use, and you get free compost, super rich in nutrients – read, “food for your garden”. That just makes me happy.
3. Shop around. Look for earth friendly ways to make your green garden grow. Corn meal gluten, which has been in the news recently, is the latest solution to making the muchmaligned green lawn, truly green. Gluten’s awesome. It feeds the lawn, it weeds the lawn and it is a by-product of corn, so less waste. It is probably one of the most ecologically sound purchases you can make for your garden.
Have I actually gone to a store to try to find this stuff yet? No. I was busy buying flowers. But I will absolutely be looking to seed some of that new eco grass, which I did see everywhere this year. It is expensive. But if you buy a bag and seed your existing lawn, it will be an entirely eco lawn in three years. That sounds worth the investment. I can’t wait to start saving money on all those fertilizer and weed killers that my husband insists on buying, as well as saving my conscience!
4. Go native. Save yourself hassle. The beginner gardeners’ best friends are plants that are native to their area. If you can find them, plant them. They are not only the greatest source of pollinators (help save the bees) but they are also the absolute best for low maintenance gardening. They were meant for this climate, which means they will be hardy to our soil type and weather. Who needs fertilizer now?
5. Roll up your sleeves. In the summer growing months, I am very, very lazy. I sit on my deck and watch my husband barbecue. I drink martinis and look at my flowers. I weed every few weeks.
Why the heck can’t I do a little more work in the garden? So, ok. Acting on my principles, I start picking potato beetles. This, I know, shows I’m stark raving mad but I abhor chemicals so much, especially near my vegetables, that I would rather pick potato beetles by hand than put that awful white powder on my potatoes plants. (Thank goodness my husband helps me.)
Plus, plucking out that leaf that has about 50 little eggs on its underside produces a great feeling of accomplishment. I will move my potatoes next year — that apparently will ease the beetle problem — and plant some more lamium near them, which is also supposed to fend off the bugs.
My husband is convinced there is something out there that eats potato beetles. If only it were mosquitoes this would be a perfect world. But until the right fly or maybe bug comes along, I’m going to keep picking my beetles and gathering my rainwater.