"A new generation of gardeners is rediscovering organic gardening"
People have been practicing organic gardening for years, but now it's being rediscovered by a new generation of gardeners who are concerned about the environment and their personal health, and the relationship between the two. Gardening organically involves thinking about plants in terms of the natural elements that contribute to their success, including healthy soil, proper maintenance and weed and insect control.
Here are 3 things you need to do this summer to maintain your eco-conscious garden.
Build your soil with organic matter
Add organic matter
Decomposed material that was once alive should be added to the soil to feed the microorganisms in it, which in turn feeds the plants. Miracle-Gro offers a wide variety of organic soil made from all-natural ingredients, as well as quick- and slow-release fertilizers, available in-store, where you'll also find a selection of eco-friendly products for the lawn and garden. It's impossible to build up organic matter permanently in the soil because it continually decomposes and disappears, so soil building must be an ongoing process. Decaying plant wastes, such as grass clippings, leaves and kitchen food scraps, are the building blocks of compost, the premium organic matter for your garden soil.
Use a compost bin
A composter acts as a backyard fertilizer factory, to reduce the amount of environmental waste you use, turning dinner scraps into crumbly brown food for the soil. A wide selection of compost bins are available at your local The Home Depot from brands such as Exaco, whose continuous compost bins allow organic waste to always be added to the top; as the organic matter decomposes, it spills down from shelf to shelf toward the bottom. This constant supply of compost maintains the pH balance of the soil. For more tips on making compost, read Use Your Resources: Compost Made Easy.
Combat weeds with earth-friendly solutions
Lay landscape fabric
Keep weeds at bay and take it easy on the environment by laying landscape fabric, which works as a durable barrier without the use of chemicals. It also lets air, water and nutrients into the soil and retains moisture, so you can water less often. Easy Gardener carries a wide selection of landscape fabric at your local The Home Depot. For step-by-step instructions, read Laying Landscape Fabric.
Use mulch to prevent weeds
Mulch is another solution to help discourage weeds. A thick layer will keep light out, preventing weed seeds from germinating, and will also protect the soil, leaving weed seeds to land on the mulch rather than penetrate the soil. Try Scotts Nature Scapes Mulch, available in-store, which keeps a consistent level of moisture in the soil, allowing plants to remain healthy so they can better resist disease. Since it's made from 100 percent natural forest products, it won't add harmful chemicals that would rob your plants of valuable nutrients.
The Home Depot carries a wide range of eco-friendly weed control products from brands such as Preen. Most are formulated with acetic acid (vinegar) and corn gluten meal.
Control pests with plants and wildlife
Space plants properly
It's a good idea to regularly rotate the location of your vegetables, which will help prevent disease and pests from lingering in the soil to attack next season's crops. Space plants evenly to promote circulation and mix some flowers such as pest-repelling marigolds among your vegetables, making it harder for the bad bugs to find their plant of choice and naturally deterring them with their scent and color.
Invite wildlife into your backyard
Invite wildlife into your backyard to keep pests away. A birdbath will attract birds that will feast on insects, keeping them from attacking your plants. A pond can lure toads and lizards into your yard, where they too will feed on pests.
A safe pest-control product is also a great tactic. Try a product that is formulated from pyrethrins and canola oil and is safe to use on edibles. If you're having trouble determining which pests are plaguing your garden, read Garden Pest Patrol.