Going green in the garden is one of the easiest and most impactful ways you can make a difference in the environment. You can reduce water use, fertilize less and with sustainable fertilizers, choose plants which thrive best in your conditions, recycle food and garden waste with backyard composting and grow your vegetables and fruit.
I like to start by having a soil test done by either the Cornell Cooperative Extension or a private laboratory. Simply take several small trowel scoops of soil 6-12” deep from you lawn or plant beds, put it in a ziplock bag and mail it to the lab. Total DIY cost $20. In a week or two you’ll have a comprehensive report bag along with fertilizing and liming recommendations.
Why fertilize or add lime if you don’t need to? Also, if you’ve been having problems growing certain plants or grass, a soil test may highlight what your problem is and tell you how to fix it. Finally, by fertilizing less and carefully, less fertilizer will end up in our lakes, ponds and rivers and our water will be safer and cleaner to drink.
You can also fertilize less by leaving lawn clipping on the grass. They’re full of nitrogen and by leaving them you can cut your fertilizing bill in half! While we’re on the topic of lawns, you can literally save thousands of dollars by watering less in the summertime especially during the hottest months of July and August. Sure, if there isn’t regular rainfall the lawn may turn brown, but don’t worry it’s not dead. The grass has simply gone dormant and will green up instantly once the weather cools and rain returns.
Composting is an easy way to reduce household waste and also add nutrients to your garden. Any vegetable and fruit scraps can go in as well as garden debris from pruning and leaves. Once it’s broken down it can be spread around your garden or even thinly broadcast onto your lawn.
If you’re thinking about planning a new garden, focus on plants that are best adapted to your specific soil (remember that soil test earlier). This ensures that they will be able to thrive, need fewer amendments and pesticides and less frequent watering.
Pick one thing to start with this year to Go Green in the garden and happy gardening.
Check back for more details about all of these topics in future posts.