Spring is just around the corner, and avid gardeners are already mapping out their gardens and starting seeds indoors. Gardening ideas? Yeah, we’ve got ’em. There is so much to consider when planning out your garden.
- What fruits and vegetables will you grow?
- What method will you use?
- Will you start from seeds or buy seedlings?
- What are your city’s water restrictions?
Gardening ideas galore
One thing that should be at the forefront of your mind when planning out your garden is whether your plans are safe for the earth and for your family. Is your garden truly green? Are you putting as much into the soil as you’re taking out? Or are you adding more toxins into the soil that will accumulate through the years?
Whether you’ve been gardening for decades or you’re contemplating your very first garden, here are 7 gardening ideas for ensuring your garden is as green as your thumb is.
Choose the right seeds or seedlings
Do you start your garden from seeds or seedlings? If you choose the easier (and more expensive) route of seedlings, be aware that many of them are treated with neonicotinoids – a pesticide that has been identified as contributing to the bee population decline. Buy from a nursery you trust.
If you’re starting from seeds, consider whether you’ll want to save seeds from your harvest for next year. Don’t buy hybridized seeds as they won’t produce viable seeds. Look for open pollinated or heirloom seeds instead.
Practice companion planting
When you’re planning out your spring garden, be sure to practice companion planting. If you haven’t worked with companion planting before, it’s the idea that if you plant certain plants together, they can benefit one another.
If you plan your garden right, you can reduce your risk of certain pests and diseases, make vegetables taste sweeter, allow you to plant more plants in a smaller area and more. This list is a great resource when learning about companion planting.
Invite in the friendly insects
While the thought of insects might make you squirm, there are many that can be extremely beneficial to your garden.
- Earthworms can help keep your soil rich.
- Ladybugs, lacewings and praying mantises will eat aphids and other invasive bugs.
- Bees are necessary to pollinate your open pollinated and heirloom plants.
Of course, it’s key that your garden is inviting to these much-welcomed insects.
- Do not use any toxic pesticides in your garden that could harm them.
- Choose native plants with bright flowers whenever you can to attract more bees.
- Also, be sure your garden incorporates plants that bloom all year so they know they can always come to your yard as a source of pollen.
Feed the soil with compost
Composting is something that everyone can do – you just have to find the method that will work best for your living situation. Even if you live in tight quarters, there are composting options for small spaces that should work for just about anyone.
Compost is an amazing resource for all gardeners. It can enrich your soil so your plants grow bigger, stronger fruits and vegetables and you get a higher yield. Composting also keeps food waste out of the landfills and gives it a wonderful new purpose of enriching the earth.
Hold the toxic chemical pesticides
When pests or weeds strike your garden, it’s easy to jump to the easy solution of toxic chemical pesticides and herbicides. Unfortunately, many of these pesticides and herbicides are toxic not only to these pests but to your family too. For example, glyphosate, an active ingredient in some commercially available options, has been deemed a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization.
- Instead, study how organic farming practices manage pests and weeds.
- Make sure you follow pest prevention advice so you don’t get them in the first place.
- There are even essential oils that can help with some common garden pests.
Bottom line is that there are natural alternatives to toxic chemical pesticides that you’ll want to educate yourself about.
Evaluate your watering methods
Many states in the U.S. are currently experiencing record droughts. This means that many cities, counties and states have water conservation policies in effect that you must follow or be fined. When you’re planning out your garden, make sure your plan takes into consideration how much water you’ll need to use. Will you water everything with city water or will you use water you’ve collected?
It’s a good idea to set up rain collection barrels at your house so you can collect water to use in your garden year-round. Another helpful method is to collect gray water from showers and baths. Just be sure you’re only using natural soaps and other personal care products if you’re collecting gray water. For more ideas, read these tips on watering your garden during a drought. Even if your area isn’t in a drought, it’s a wonderful idea to conserve water where you can.
Recycle and reuse
While composting and using gray water are two ways that you can reuse what you already have on hand in your garden, there are many other ways. For example, if you start your garden from seeds and you live somewhere with a short growing season, you can start your seeds in upcycled containers.
Do you have wood or other building material lying around the house? Look to what you already have if you need to build fencing or anything else to support your garden.
In addition, there are many ways to protect your growing plants in areas where it gets too cold at night for them to thrive.
- For example, you can cut plastic bottles in half to create mini greenhouses.
- You can use old pipes and plastic to create a hoop house.
The ideas for using recycled materials in your garden are endless.
Keeping your garden green
Growing a green garden is about more than producing food. It’s also about being a steward of the Earth and making choices that support your health and the health of Mother Nature. If you follow these gardening ideas to keep a green garden, you’ll be well on your way to having a green thumb and a green garden.
Feature image courtesy of Richard Hefner (Flickr)