GREEN PIECE: How does your garden grow?

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First Posted: 4/30/2013

With all the crazy weather lately, it was nice to finally have perfect temperatures and sunshine this past weekend. While it’s still too early to start planting flowers or a garden, I started weeding around the house to prepare for warmer days. I want to make sure that when we do plant our garden and flowers, we do it the “greenest” way possible.

To make sure everything is eco-friendly, it’s important to choose eco-friendly products and methods to help create a beautiful yet “green” backyard oasis. Minimizing the use of pesticides is probably one of the best things you can do for your garden. While it might sound easy to just grab a bottle of pesticides to keep annoying bugs away or to make your tomatoes abnormally large, in the long run, it’s no good. Plus, who wants to eat a tomato that’s full of chemicals? Not me. If you plan it the right way, your need for sprays will eventually vanish.

Companion planting is a great way to control pests and fight disease. For example, plant herbs in the same garden as your vegetables; this can even help improve the soil. If you have to, you can use a natural hot pepper or garlic spray to keep bugs from eating your garden. Crop rotation is another natural way to get the most out of your garden. By moving the area where you grow your vegetables each year, you minimize the spread of disease. Crop rotation also benefits the nutrients in the soil and is known to keep insects away.

It’s important that you consider your surroundings when you garden and really plant for the local wildlife. I absolutely adore hummingbirds, but for some reason, they do not visit my part of town. I see them in abundance out in the country where my parents live, but they just don’t care to visit me. Growing native plants is an excellent way to attract natural wildlife, and they are also easy to maintain. Native plants require less fertilizer and water as well as less of an effort to keep pests away.

Harvesting rainwater on your own through the use of a rain barrel is an inexpensive and basically effortless way to go green with your garden. When you use your hose to water the garden, you never know if there is bacteria or chlorine in the water. Using rain water, you’ll know that the water has beneficial minerals and is chlorine free. Plus, if you have extra, you can use it to water your flowers, window boxes, or even your car!

We’re in the midst of a major bee-loss epidemic, which is a huge problem. Bees pollinate up to 35 percent of the world’s crops, so it’s important that we keep them around. Provide a pesticide-free sanctuary for bees and butterflies to help keep our pollinators alive. If you have a garden and keep a variety of attractive plants (about 10 different plants is probably good), then you are definitely going to attract bees and help keep them going.

Green gardens and landscaping will help the environment and decrease the amount of harmful chemicals around your home. Minimize any negative impact your greens may have and your backyard – and the environment – will thank you.