The Green Blog
Try Out Your Green Thumb This Spring

You’re already trying out your green finger, so why not try making your garden greener? As a whole, Americans use millions of pounds of fertilizers each year, which is responsible for a toxic buildup of chemicals in soil and drinking water. Here are a few tips for making your garden green that won’t create problems.

1. Keep it real
Stop using pesticides, weed killers and chemical fertilizers to keep your garden growing and try using some all-natural compost instead. It’s the simplest way to make good dirt with just a little help. For more about natural composting and its benefits, click here.

2. Make compost from kitchen scraps
Try adding your vegetable waste to your garden, instead of allowing it to be trucked off to the landfill. The "gardener's gold" compost enriches soil fertility by giving it a shot of high-powered, plant-loving nutrients. It stimulates healthy root development and adds rich and earthy compost that improves soil texture, aeration, and water retention. Why waste your money on commercial products when you can help your garden for free. 

3. Grow your own food
Buying organic produce can get expensive, so why now try growing your own food?  You won't find fresher (or cheaper) eating anywhere else. Check out the organic gardening guru for tips.

4. Join a community garden

You don’t have a backyard to plant a garden or you don’t have time to plant one? No problem: you can still get in on the action by signing up for a plot at your local community garden. Community gardens typically have a communal composting area as well.

5. Harvest rainwater
Adding a rain barrel is an inexpensive and effortless way to capture mineral- and chlorine-free water for watering lawns, yards and gardens, as well as washing cars or rinsing windows. Cover your barrel with a screen to keep out insects and debris. You will see a reduction in your water bill and reduce storm water runoff, which helps prevent erosion and flooding.

6. Water with care
Adopting  a few smart-watering habits will do much to stretch out your supply, especially during dry, hot spells in the summer. Adding mulch and compost to your soil will retain water and cut down evaporation. Also, use a soaker hoses or drip irrigation because it uses 50 percent of the water used by sprinklers. Be sure to water early in the day so you can avoid evaporation and winds.

Having Trouble with those pesky snails and slugs invading your garden?
• Snails and slugs love beer. Some people use beer traps, which is just a shallow dish with beer poured in. Others spray beer on weeds so that snails eat the weeds instead of your plants.
• Consider planting repellent species among your other plants. These include lavender, thyme, sage, geraniums and mint.
• Place crushed egg shells, pine needles, sawdust and shredded bark around your plants in order to set up a barrier.
• Have a snail and slug hunt with your kids and offer a prize to whoever catches the most.
• Try creating simple traps with upside down flower pots and wooden boards. These traps will need to be checked daily.
• Frequent hoeing of bare areas of your garden can help bring eggs to the surface where they'll be feasted upon by predators. Slugs also spend a good deal of their time below the surface, so turning over the soil helps to expose them to predators as well.
• When using commercial pesticides, avoid products containing metaldehyde or methiocarb whenever possible. These chemicals have killed thousands of domestic pets and birds over the years and are both toxic to any creature that consumes it. Iron phosphate is more environmentally friendly according to the EPA and no toxicity has been seen in mammals, birds, fish, earthworms or beetles. Snails and slugs stop feeding within 3 to 6 days after consuming bait with iron phosphate.

Check out this article for more tips.

Also, read OF COURSE you want to plant a winter garden! Here’s how to get started.