You are trying to eat healthier by growing your own food, but if you are using pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides, not only are you negating your efforts, you can be contaminating your region as a whole.
Eco-friendly gardening is actually quite simple, and many times it is less expensive than purchasing pre-mixed chemical formulas. Try these eco-friendly gardening tips to stay more natural and enjoy greener greens.
The Environmental Protection Agency indicates that about 28% of what we throw away can be turned into fertile compost. If it fits your property and local regulations, you can literally just start a pile, otherwise there are a number of compost bin alternatives.
Remember to keep your compost plant-based with no animal products other than eggshells. Items that turn into nutrient-rich compost can include:
- Fruit and vegetable scraps
- Coffee grounds
- Grass clippings
- Leaves, branches, and bark
Using rain barrels, water butts, or even underground tanks to collect rainwater can help reduce water usage. Check with your municipality, as some areas have restrictions about whether you can collect rainwater or how much you can keep on your property.
If you are concerned about standing water increasing the mosquito population, use the environmentally-friendly Mosquito Dunks, approved by the EPA.
Mulch can be decorative as well as beneficial. Using mulch in your eco-friendly gardening can:
- Keep weeds at bay
- Retain moisture in soil
- Maintain temperature of soil
- Secure roots
Whenever possible, recycle your mulching materials by using grass clippings, yard waste, or even newspaper or old cardboard.
Natural Pest Control
When it comes to natural pest control, there are a lot of options. Do your research first to understand which are “pests” and which are beneficial or even necessary to your gardening success. Some natural pest controls you can try in your eco-friendly gardening include:
Homemade Animal Repellent
There is nothing more disheartening than wandering through your yard or garden one morning only to find out that the deer, rabbits, or even wild turkeys have decimated your greens. You can keep them away with some “stink” and some heat by combining in a blender:
- 6 eggs
- 4 hot peppers (or whatever you need to make it spicy)
- 6-12 cloves garlic (or whatever you need to make it stinky)
- 5 cups warm water
- ¼ cup oil
Blend all items together well, then pour it in an old milk jug. Set it in the sun for a couple of days so it can “ripen.” Keep an eye on it as you may need to loosen the cap to let accumulating gases escape.
Once “ripe,” you can either strain it into a spray bottle to apply, or just pour directly onto plants. The oil helps to repel moisture, but if you get a hard rain, you’ll want to reapply.
They may be tiny, but slugs eat about twice their body weight daily, so in a single day they could consume about 2 pounds of your precious greens! But guess what. Slugs are pretty easy to catch because they love beer. You can put a small tin or jar cover of beer at the end of each row or near your flower gardens and the slugs will head over for a drink, climb in, and then drown.
You can also use copper slug barriers that you place around the base of plants. The slugs get a shock when they come in contact with the copper.
Bright beautiful flowers and gorgeous fruits and veggies are always a delight, but using fertilizers are not the answer. Epsom salt applied to the soil helps plants absorb the nutrients they need. The magnesium in epsom salt can also improve plants’ ability to flower and produce fruit.
Also referred to as diatomite or DE, diatomaceous earth is like the superhero of gardening to some people. DE can:
- Control insect pests
- Repel slugs
- Keep flies away
- Reduce ant population
- Discourage rodents
Birds & Bugs
Install bird feeders and nesting boxes to attract natural predators to snails, grubs, slugs, and destructive insects. You can also attract beneficial insects like aphid-eating ladybirds and lacewings by companion planting brightly-colored flowers and foliage.
Straw Bale Gardening
Erroneously also referred to as “hay bale gardening” (do not use hay, only straw!), this type of gardening is gaining popularity. This environmentally friendly gardening technique is beneficial because:
- It is natural and decomposes
- No soil is needed
- Gardening can start earlier because you do not need to wait for soil temperature to rise
- It is excellent for gardening in limited space
- It is ideal for people with mobility issues, as bales stand higher so zero or little bending is needed
- It has better drainage so it is easier to maintain as there is no need to wait for soil to dry out
Other Eco-Friendly Ideas
Help create a sustainable energy future by contacting Kiwi Energy. You can also get in contact with Green Guerilla which is a nonprofit eco-friendly gardening group, dedicated to strengthening and preserving urban gardens in New York City.
Together, we will work to share our existing environmentally-friendly concepts, as well as come up with more!