Spring is here. It’s time to head outside, dust off your gardening tools and get to work. We already gave you five tips to get started. Here are five more for the green gardeners who are ready to earn a gold star.
Start with green seeds
Choose organic seeds and starter plants. The local, big-box hardware store or lawn and garden center is sure to have plants that are ready to transfer to your garden. However, unless these plants are certified organic, they’re likely to be pretreated with pesticides that not only wipe out pests but seriously affect local bee populations. Whether you’re planting flowers and herbs or fruits and veggies, the greenest option is to start with organic seeds or starter plants.
Don’t forget about the birds and the bees
Speaking of local bee populations, it’s important to make your garden inviting for pest controllers and pollinators. Birds are great at helping to control pesky insects that can wreak havoc on your garden. Bees are essential to the development of many fruits and some vegetables. Add bird feeders and a variety of flowering plants to your garden to welcome these beneficial creatures to your space.
It’s getting hot in here
Hot composting is a way of composting that heats your heap to temperatures at or above 120° F. At this temperature, weed seeds and potentially harmful microbes are killed off, so they can’t contaminate your garden when it’s time to use your compost for fertilizer. The trick is to get a good mix of both green and brown compost material. Green material is wetter, fresher and higher in nitrogen. Brown material is drier and higher in carbon. You want your carbon to nitrogen ratio to be around 25:1. Build your heap about 4.5 feet high and let it sit for about four days. Then mix it thoroughly every other day for the next two weeks. Hot composting not only kills unwanted seeds and disease, it also yields usable fertilizer much sooner than traditional composting methods.
Rein in weeds the green way
Don’t spoil your garden by spraying it with toxic herbicide. Take care of weeds the green way with a soap and vinegar mixture or plain old boiling water. In a large spray bottle, combine a half-gallon of vinegar with one or two tablespoons of dish soap. Be sure there’s no rain in the forecast and spray down weeds with the mixture. The soap helps the vinegar stick to the weed so the vinegar can dry it up and kill it. For a long-term solution, add ½ cup of salt to the mix, but be sure not to get any on the plants you are trying to protect.
Save water from a rainy day
Take advantage of the rain water running off the roof of your house or garden shed, and collect it in a rain barrel. You can buy one at just about any hardware store or build your own. Use the water you collect to irrigate your garden without running up your water bill.