There are several things to take into consideration when attempting to become a more ecologically conscious gardener.
Below are five of the most basic and important tips.
1. Use Only Organic Fertilizers. The soil is most basic element of any garden and, in order to truly grow “green,” the soil must be fertilized and treated with only organic materials. While this may give the impression that it would be easier to simply ignore fertilizing and keep the soil completely natural, it is important to resist the urge. Without fertilizer, the garden is unlikely to yield the same results. So, the best way to fertilize the soil is with a combination of animal fertilizers and green manures. Green manures are not actual manure but are simply fertilizers created from so-called “cover crops,” which are those that are grown simply to protect and manage soil. These include clover and buckwheat.
2. Rotate Plants. The importance of rotating plants depends on the size of the garden and the type of crops and plants being grown. Because all plants require a specific set of nutrients in order to thrive, growing the same plant in the exact same area for a long period can deplete the soil of certain nutrients and increase the concentration of others. Moving the location of crops or plants can alleviate this problem.
3. Companion Planting for Pest Management. Companion planting involves growing two different plants in the same area in order. Similar to crop rotation, this method of planting can help manage nutrients in the soil. More importantly, companion planting can help reduce the amount of pests infesting the garden. For example, peppermint repels aphids. Growing peppermint with any other plant can prevent aphids from attacking that plant.
4. Pick the Right Seeds. In order for the garden to be organic, the seeds must come from plants that were grown without toxic chemicals. If buying from a store, these seeds will typically be labeled as "organic."
5. Start Small. Deciding to be a green gardener can be a time-consuming undertaking. The time commitment required to prepare the soil, grow the plants and protect the garden from bugs and small rodents is usually far greater than most people expect. Therefore, it is vital to refrain from trying to do too much too soon. Growing too many plants can cause issues with soil nutrients and pest management. Most gardeners suggest starting with no more than four main plants and eventually increasing the size of the garden if desired.
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