The following tips are from “The Ultimate Guide to Greening your Home“.
There are several benefits of gardening. In addition to producing nutritious, organic food for you and your family, gardening can also save you money and provide you with a relaxing, rewarding hobby.
✔ Select the location carefully – Selecting the location of your garden is one of the most important decisions you will make during the planning process. When choosing a location, keep these factors in mind:
- Select a location that gets several hours of direct sunlight every day.
- Make sure the location has access to a water hose. Your plants they may need additional watering, especially when they are young.
- Try to choose a location where the ground is level (not on a gradient), but also drains well).
✔ Grow foods to replace supermarket food – The most direct way to benefit from gardening is to replace the food that you usually buy in supermarkets with food that you grow in your own garden. The food that you produce can be grown in an organic manner, will be more nutritious and better tasting and will save you money.
✔ Avoid using weed killers – Weeds can be an eyesore as well as a persistent source of additional work. Although, the use of weed-killers should be avoided in almost all circumstances, especially in the presence of your garden. Weed-killers contain toxic chemicals that cannot only kill your vegetables, but could find their way into your food and water supply.
To stay on top of your weed situation, consider the following:
- Don’t disrupt or till unused ground – This will bring seeds to the surface, which given a bit of water and sunlight, will bloom into weeds.
- Cover bare ground with mulch – Mulch not only helps keep moisture in the soil, but it also helps keep the sun away from the seeds that become weeds.
- Weed by hand, often and early – By weeding often, you will catch weeds before they have an opportunity to flower (creating more weeds), and you catch them when they are young and easier to remove.
✔ Use organic pest and disease control – There are several effective organic pest and disease control option available at lawn and garden stores. By using these, you again avoid the use of toxic chemicals.
✔ Grow plants suitable for your climate – Plants suitable for your climate will require less water and fertilizer than nonnative varieties.
✔ Use your own compost – Creating your own compost will not only reduce your household waste stream, but will also provide nutrients for your plants which will help them grow strong and healthy. The following items can be used to make compost: kitchen waste, lawn clippings, chopped leaves, shredded branches, disease free garden plants, shredded paper, weeds (before they go to seed), straw, hay, newspaper, tea leaves, and coffee grounds.
Creating your own compost is a rather simple process. You can purchase composting bins at lawn and garden stores, or make your own. Start with a layer of chopped leaves, grass clippings and kitchen waste. Keep adding materials until you have a six-inch layer, then cover it with three to six inches of soil, manure, or finished compost. Alternate layers of organic matter and layers of soil or manure until the pile is about three feet tall. A pile that is three feet tall by three feet square will generate enough heat during decomposition to sterilize the compost.
When your compost is ready, it can be mixed into the soil before planting or applied to the surface of the soil as a mulch. Keep the pile in a semi-shaded area to keep it from drying out too much. Keep it moist, but not wet. Beneficial organisms cannot survive in soggy conditions.
✔ Use organic soil amendments and fertilizers – Use of organic soil amendments and fertilizers avoids the use of toxic chemicals and provides a use for home compost materials. Organic fertilizers can be found in most lawn and garden stores.