Show Off Your 'Greener' Thumb!

Gardening The Green Way

Keeping a garden healthy and thriving can be an enjoyable, yet arduous task as gardeners try to find a balance between pests and 'friendly' pest deterrents.

It's ironic that gardeners, who work hard to beautify the earth, must turn to chemicals to achieve a vigorously growing garden. Fortunately, there are effective and environmentally friendly options that are also good for your wallet. If you are fighting some unwanted guests in your garden, try these greener ways to take your garden from ordinary to extraordinary.

No Nibblers Please

To keep rabbits, mice deer and birds from enjoying the culinary delights of your plants and vegetables, be clever about what you put in your garden.

Rabbits do not like onions, and mice have an aversion to the smell of mint so be generous with these when planting your garden.

Deer dislike the smell and taste of milk after they are weaned so dust your garden with dried milk powder to keep these uninvited guests at bay.

To stop birds from feasting on your buds and seeds, 'plant' a fake bird of prey or a small colourful windmill amongst your beds to scare them away.

Weeds, Weeds, Go Away

Weeds have a way of emerging through the smallest cracks in pathways and patio stones. To rid yourself of these undesirables easily, pour hot, salty water on them. For tougher weeds try spraying them with diluted vinegar (5-20% strength) on a hot, sunny day for impressive results. Take care near your lawn and plants as these mixtures can be just as deadly for them.

Get The Slugs Out

Many slug repellents you can purchase are dangerous if ingested by pets and children as well as harmful to the environment.

Instead, try placing a partially filled cup of beer in a hole in your garden. The slugs are attracted to the yeast and barley in beer and will climb into the cup. Every morning, remove the slugs from the cup and refill with beer as necessary.

Alternatively, broken egg shells mixed with strong, used coffee grounds sprinkled around your plants will also deter slugs.

Everything In The Kitchen Sink

Used dishwater poured on your plants and flowers acts as an insecticide. It works well, is free and readily available. For a stronger solution, use fresh dishwater with a mixture of 3 tablespoons of detergent to every gallon of water.

Let The Bugs Do The Work

Improve your lawn easily by mowing the grass at a higher height than usual, leaving the clippings behind as you cut. As the clippings break down, the insects in your lawn will gather the blades and drag then below to the soil. The natural nutrients in your lawn are used to nourish itself.

Water Watchers

We are all very aware of the need to conserve fresh water throughout the world and you may be experiencing pangs of guilt as you reach to turn on the garden hose. Here are a few ways to use less tap water and still give your lawn and garden the TLC they require.

Let It Rain!

Collecting rain water to use on your gardens not only conserves water and reduces your water bill, it is better for your plants and flowers. Natural rain water contains more nutrients and fewer chemicals than treated tap water making it healthier for your growing gardens. As well, rain water stored in a barrel is ready to use at a warmer temperature than tap water which causes less stress to plants.

Go Ahead, Procrastinate

Watering later in the evening or during the night means there is no sun to cause evaporation. This allows time for the water to penetrate deeper into the soil and reach the roots where the water is needed most. In fact, 1 watering at night is as effective as 3 comparable waterings throughout the rest of the day saving your time, water and money.

"Please Sir, Can I have Some More?"

By watering your lawn frequently, you will condition it to expect regular watering. Grass is naturally a hearty plant that can survive long periods of time without water, however, as it gets used to frequent watering it becomes less hearty.

So put the sprinkler away and give your lawn a lesson in survival; it's tougher than you think.

Drip, Drip, Drip

If you haven't lined your hanging baskets, you may notice a lot of leaking when watering them. Line your baskets with an absorbent material, such as sphagnum moss or a piece of an old wool sweater to retain the water. You will save time and use less water.

The Root Of The Problem

As roots play the important role of taking in nutrients and water, assist them as best you can. Maintain a healthy environment of organic material in the soil to improve moisture retention and cover roots with mulch to protect them from the sun. Better water retention translates to less need for you to water.

Keeping your garden green and the planet greener can be done with a few small changes. By trying these gardening tips you will be able to garden with a clear conscience and keep your wallet green too.

Happy Planting!

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