Gardening naturally, is not only better for wildlife and the environment, it is also better for your health and your food. There are plenty of ways to garden naturally, without having to worry about harmful pesticides, and the like. Whether you already have a garden and are searching for ways to be more eco-friendly in your gardening process, or you are looking to start a garden but would like to be as green as possible, this step by step guide will help point you in the right direction.
1.) Plant Your Own Herb Garden
One of the easiest things to garden at home are herbs. There is nothing better than being able to go out to your garden and cut a few fresh herbs straight from the plant, to put in your favorite dish. Having your own herbs is a great way to save money, eat healthier; and incorporate better flavor and nutrition into your diet. If you lack the space to garden, don’t worry. Herbs are easy to garden indoors on a window ledge, or in a palett garden on your balcony or patio.
2.) Start Your Own Compost
Creating your own compost at home is a great way to reduce, re-use, and recycle. There are plenty of DIY guides to help get you started.
3.) Save Water When Watering Your Plants
Rather than using a hose or constantly having to turn on your sink faucet to fill up your watering can, try the green trick of collecting your own rainwater. Just be careful, some states have made this practice illegal, and no, unfortunately I am not kidding. Check with your HOA or state before trying this. Another way to save water when watering your plants is to avoid watering during the heat of the day. The heat of the day will burn or scorch plants and increases evaporation and loss of water. Watering during early morning or dusk are better.
4.) Fight Weeds Naturally
Spraying your garden with store-bought weed killer is one of the most harmful gardening practices to the environment and wildlife. Many of these sprays contain pesticides, harmful chemicals, and carcinogens. Instead of spraying your garden, why not take the time to pick the weeds yourself, by hand? If this seems like too much work there are other natural methods you can try. Mulching your garden is one way to decrease weeds in your garden. Another is by making your own natural weed killer from scratch. One last option is to try corn gluten. This natural substance, works great because it inhibits the formation of roots in weeds.
5.) Avoid Railroad Ties
Avoid using railroad ties in or around your garden; the chemicals used as preservatives are now thought to be toxic and harmful.
6.) Use Native Plants
Growing plants that were designed to live where you do is very beneficial to the environment. Not only will native plants grow easily, and require little care; they also prevent the introduction of invasive plants, add to the available habitat for wildlife, and provide a food source for them as well. (i.e. seeds, nuts, fruits, nectar). They will also make your garden beautiful! You can head to your local nursery for advice on which plants are native to your area.
7.) Join A Community Garden
Community gardens are a fun and easy solution for green thumbs who don’t have the time or space to garden at home, or whom are just looking for a fun activity. Signing up for a plot at your local community garden is a great way to garden, save money on fresh produce, and make friends with similar interests to yours.
8.) Go Pesticide-Free
One of the biggest mistakes gardeners make is discouraging the presence of insects or spraying harmful pesticides in their garden. Most insects can actually be very beneficial in the gardening process. This is why it is crucial to provide a pesticide-free sanctuary for our pals who pollinate. You can plant a diverse variety of native flowers that butterflies and bees are particularly drawn to, including lilac and lemon balm. This step in the green gardening process cannot be stressed enough, as we are in the middle of a major bee-loss epidemic. Pollinators affect 35% of the world’s crop production– and increase the output of 87 of the leading food crops worldwide. Bottom line? We need bees! Another way to go pesticide-free is to plant from seedlings or to get your plants from a trusted organic gardening store. Unfortunately many stores, like Lowes have recently started spraying their plants with harmful pesticides that kill bees, which is only making the problem worse. Think twice before buying that blueberry plant you thought would attract bees to your garden, its probably been doused in harmful pesticides, and that good deed you thought you were doing, will realistically be doing more harm, than good. While planting from seeds takes longer and requires more work, you’ll be doing insects and other wildlife a huge favor.
9.) Re-purpose/Upcycle Planters
Making your own planters from upcycled items is a great way to recycle and reduce waste in landfills. It is also a lot more cost efficient than having to purchase expensive pots and planting containers. Besides, its fun! You can get as creative as you want with it! Tires make a great spot for flowers. Cinder blocks are great for strawberry plants. Other items you can upcycle include bird baths, grocery carts, jars, corks, tea pots, tool boxes, crates, glassware, jugs, mailboxes, barrels, cans, wagons, wheel barrels, fish bowls or aquariums, pallets, window frames, boots, mugs, tree-trunks, baskets, clay pots, etc. The options are endless.
10.) Know Your Neighbors/Consider A Fence
Keeping tabs on whats going on around you is also an important thing to consider when trying to maintain an environmentally-friendly garden. Being friendly with your neighbors can really come in handy in this type of situation. If you notice that your neighbors are spraying pesticides or other harmful sprays in their garden, don’t be afraid to ask them not to spray on windy days. The last thing you want, is your garden being contaminated thanks to their negligence. Trying to explain to them, the advantages of going green might also not be a bad idea. Or offer to share your garden. Sharing your garden with neighbors will minimize resources and can be beneficial to both parties. If they aren’t budging, or when all else fails, there’s always the option of building a fence. Fences are a gardener’s best friend.