Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chemical Free Green Garden

Wanting to have a green garden? Don't want to use chemicals? Well here is a list of things you can do to have both of these. 
-Build Healthy Soil. 
Healthy soil makes healthy plants that naturally resist diseases and pest. Add organic material to improve drainage and provide food to the microscopic creatures that produce nutrients for your plants. Add 2 or 3 inches of compost or aged manure every year by turning it into the soil or using as mulch around plants. Live in a rural area? Might find some for free, just drive by and ask. Most are happy to get rid of it.
-Rethink your lawn.
 Grasscycling is the practice of leaving grass clippings on the lawn to release nutrients back into the lawn. It also reduces fertilizer needs by up to 50%, and saves time bagging clippings for yard debris collection.
-Water deeply but infrequently. 
About an inch a week is all your lawn needs. Let the lawn dry out between watering's to encourage deep roots that will withstand the stress of drought. Over-watering can promote disease and leach nutrients from the soil as well  as waste water. If you have a lot of clippings, throw some in your compost pile too.
-Skip the weed and feed.
Weed and feed is more than just fertilizer. It contains weed killers that may damage soil and lawn healthy as well as pollute waterways. Cover ground with mulch, you are less likely to get weeds. And if you do, they pull out super easy because the ground is very soft.
-Grow plants that thrive in our environment.
Choose plants that do well in your area soil and climate. A plant that is suited to its environment will be stronger, healthier and less likely to succumb to diseases or pests.
-Grow a diverse garden.
A balanced ecosystem provides a year-round habitat for creatures that are beneficial to your garden. such as insects, birds and other wildlife. A natural balance of insects, birds and other wildlife can help control pest. Using pesticides can upset this natural balance and actually increase pest problems. 
-Get to know your bugs.
Not all bugs are bad, and even the presence of some bad ones is not necessarily a sign of problems. If you think you have pests in your garden, determine whether they are actually damaging  your plants. Most plants can easily survive losing 25% of their leaf surface, so if they are signs that pests have been chewing on your plants, a little damage wont hurt. They can also be some time between the appearance of pests and the arrival of beneficial insects that will control them. Many plants can actually "outgrow" pests or disease if the soil is healthy.
-Try non-toxic pest control.
If you determine that a pest or disease problem requires intervention, use the safest method possible. Pick off bugs by hand, use streaming water from a garden hose to remove aphids, and set out traps for slugs. Use barriers to keep pests from getting on your plants in the first place-e.g row covers for vegetables. If you need to use a pesticide, choose the least-toxic product possible, such as insecticidal soap. Or use natural peppermint liquid soap. Just mix 2 tbsp with a spray bottle full of water. This is my preferred method.

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