Over the past decade, there has been a sharp rise in environmental consciousness. With that rise has come the realization that it’s important for everybody to do their part to help the environment. While growing green and environmentally-friendly maybe seem complicated it isn’t. I will go over the basic techniques and give you my experience and knowhow and go over some planting and growing ideas that are sustainable and natural for a happy earth-friendly garden improving your health, garden, and our planet!
Gardening Tips That Are Safe and Sustainable
Pesticides are chemical fertilizers and toxic poisons used in gardens to kill insects, weeds, fungi, and pest control. Using these pesticides can help remove unwanted intruders to your garden, but these pesticides do not discriminate among pests or soil organisms or microbial life.
This means that beneficial pollinators and insects such as bees and ladybugs also die when pesticides are used. Furthermore, if you have any children or dogs that play in an area that has been exposed to pesticides, it could lead to serious health complications including cancer, Alzheimer’s, birth defects, and more.
What Are The Benefits of Growing a Chemical-Free Garden?
- Ensures that infants, pets, bees, fish, frogs, birds, dragonflies, and other creatures enjoying a garden will not be harmed by the harsh chemical fertilizers and carcinogenic (cancer-causing) ingredients that most pesticides contain.
- By refusing to use chemical fertilizers, you can greatly reduce greenhouse gas release and help the ozone layer. Some harsh fertilizers are known to release nitrous oxide, an extremely potent greenhouse gas that is much much more harmful to the earth than carbon dioxide.
- By not using pesticides, you could save on those yearly costs. If your garden is healthy enough, pesticides may not even be necessary because pests are less likely to attack healthy and strong plants due to their ability in fighting off pests and diseases by themselves.
- Alternative gardening allows for the growth of 100 percent organic and non-GMO food. Genetically modified organisms (also known as GMOs) are plants that have been genetically modified to display certain desired characteristics such as disease resistance, higher crop yields, certain color traits, etc.
The Harm of Pesticides
Most genetically modified food is grown using a large number of pesticides and synthetic and chemical fertilizers. Even if you wash your fruits and vegetables before eating them, the residue of these toxic chemicals is still contained inside.
Genetically modified foods have also been linked to certain disease including organ damage, cancer, infertility, and more. Not only can these modified foods cause you bodily harm, but the environmental impact of growing these foods can also cause soil erosion and major pollution. There are many benefits of non-GMO vegetable gardening; among these benefits are having fresh produce, the reduction of your environmental impact and most importantly that you won’t be supporting the growth of GMOs.
What Is The Best Organic Insecticide?
Consider a safe alternative to pesticides. Many diseases, fungi, and pest problems can be solved easier than one might think. Before running to the store and buying all of the boric acid, fungicide, insecticide, and herbicide you can find, research if there are alternative ways to help eliminate these problems.
Here are a few alternatives to Pesticides that may be helpful:
- Attracting beneficial insects
- Diversified planting
- Removing pests by hand
- Adding barriers and traps to impede pests
- Using homemade organic pesticides
Why Organic Gardening is the best gardening technique?
Organic vs Inorganic Pesticides
An organic pesticide is usually more complex vs. an inorganic pesticide “synthetic” and here is the main difference “organic pesticides” have a molecular structure based in carbon while inorganic is crystalline does not contain a carbon atom and their structure is similar to salt “crystalline” which does not easily dissolve in water and is not found naturally.
Here is a great resource for the main types of pesticides used today and the reasons you should avoid using them.
But what does this mean for the health of your garden?
Does this mean that organic pesticides don’t contain chemicals, of course not nature is full of chemistry. Many organic pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and fungicides all have an organic composition but to be truly defined as “Organic” and used for organic gardening they must all be carbon-based. The one thing in common organic vs inorganic pesticides do have is that they both succeed in the same goal: killing the garden pests both “Organic” and “Inorganic” have no prejudice in what they kill. The best alternative is always organic for your health and mother earth.
Here are some great ideas for Homemade Organic Pesticides
Decorate Your Garden With Plants That Are Native to Your Area
Part of the pleasure of home gardeners is having your favorite flowers right outside your door and creating your personal paradise. However, you should always research which plants are native to your area and which will be more difficult to grow. Native plants will typically be able to fend off disease and common pests who live in your area more easily compared to a foreign plant species.
Research native plant species that thrive on your natural soil and your seasonal weather changes. Some plants just cannot adapt to harsh conditions that you may live in such as droughts, high rainfall, extreme temperatures, or flooding. Using native species not only requires less maintenance but also allows you the pleasure of watching your garden flourish by using plants that are well-adapted to your area.
Incorporate A Composting System Into Your Garden
Although most gardeners know what composting is, many do not know the environmental benefits composting has to offer to your garden and earth sustainability. Your fruit and veggie scraps, lawn clippings, and other organic yard waste can be better utilized if composted.
By adding nutrients and organic matter back into your soil using compost, it creates healthy and strong plants that are more resistant to pests.
Kitchen scraps and waste make up a large portion of our total garbage waste. By reusing kitchen waste as compost it will decrease your contribution to landfills.
Great Composting Systems
Composting today has turned into an art and it comes in many different forms. Consider using one of these systems in your garden to further improve the health of your garden.
- A Compost Tumbler: A compost tumbler is a large container that is barrel-shaped on its side. There is a handle where you can turn the compost periodically.
- Liquid Tea: There is some state of the art composting systems that can produce beneficial liquid tea for plants that is full of nutrients in addition to making compost.
- Worm Bins: Worm bins or cans that can be purchased. The worms will feed on yard and kitchen waste and turn it into nutrient-rich soil to introduce back into your garden. Worm composting (also known as vermiculture) can be a fun project to get the kids interested in composting.
Start Seed Saving
You can save seeds from fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. The easiest vegetables to seed save are self-pollinators such as beans, lettuce, heirloom herbs, peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, and peas. The harder ones include carrots or beets. This is a process that requires practice so it’s okay to start off with the easy seed savers and graduate toward more intermediate and advanced levels.
Practice Water Conservation Techniques
Water is essential for a successful garden. There are rain barrels that can collect water that runs off of your roof. For areas that have unreliable periods of rain, water from rain barrels can be stored and saved for when it is needed. This can also save you a fair amount of money depending on your living area. In some places, water is quite expensive and can easily rack up a hefty utility bill.
Eliminating your sprinkler is also a conservation technique due to the fact that much of the water is lost in the air due to evaporation. There are more effective ways to deliver water to plants. If your climate permits it, you could challenge yourself to only use water that comes from rainfall for 30 days and see how you fare. You can get creative with your water conservation techniques!
Be Strategic With Your Garden Design
There are certain ways you can set your plants up for success when considering the conditions the plants thrive in. A plant who prefers the shade would do the best right beside a taller plant who loves the sun and blocks the shade-loving plant. Plan ahead and leave room for vegetables you anticipate needing a lot of space, such as parsley, and plant these next to ones that won’t spread out and crowd whatever is near it. By placing flowers, herbs, and vegetables in close proximity (but leaving enough room for predicted growth), it can lead to pest confusion and better vegetable yield.
Strategic garden design requires research and vast knowledge of the plant species you put in your garden, but your plants will thank you for your consideration and grow to the best of their ability in the places they develop the best in.
Get the Family Involved!
One of the most important ways that we can protect our environment is by educating the generation that will come after us. Teaching kids to garden can serve as a valuable lesson about the patience and dedication required in order to get results. It will also encourage family time and bonding activities and might even get the kids excited to eat vegetables that they grew themselves. As stated previously, a worm composting project may entice them to start contributing.
After a while, your kids may even come up with their own gardening ideas. Maybe you could give them an easy plant to seed and take care of and follow it through its plant life process. Teach them about the benefits of a healthy garden and encourage them to do their part to help the planet they live on.
Introduce Two New Pollinator Attractants Into Your Garden
There are certain plants that attract beneficial bees, butterflies, and moths more than others. By attracting pollinators into your garden, you are encouraging pollen transfer between flowers of fruiting plants and plant fertilization. Here are some examples of great attractors—remember to research what pollinator plants would be best in your conditions.
You may already have some in your garden already, but there will likely be a few you still don’t have. Sprinkle these throughout your backyard and garden, and your garden will be buzzing in no time!
- Creeping thyme
- Mexican sunflower
- Globe thistle
- Bee Balm
Add Bird Feeders and Clean Your Birdbaths
Birds are an important part of any garden and are a great hunter for the pesky pests that lurk in our backyard. Why not make the birds feel a bit more welcome by giving them a place to bathe and eat?
Bird feeders should be cleaned and have fresh food inside at the start of spring. Be sure to hang it from a tree farther from your house so that it discourages bird droppings on your porch and roof.
Most birdbaths get dirty and grimy from the winter and need a good cleaning with warm water and a bit of bleach. Even if you don’t have a birdbath, a plant saucer will suffice—the birds don’t know the difference!
Test Your Soil and Analyze Your Data for Years to Come
Home soil testing kits are available at any garden and hardware store—these kits are easy to use and you can test several places throughout your garden in a timely manner. pH changes are important to track and can change season by season and year after year. Composting and introducing nutrients back into the soil should create a healthy soil system that plants will thrive in. By testing your soil, you can determine if it is too acidic or too basic (less acidic) and work to create a perfect balance. Alternatively, you can strategically arrange for certain plants to be planted in their preferred pH level soil.
We strongly believe that the only solution is growing organically to protect bees and birds. Practicing natural and organic cultivation is the only way to protect our super-pollinators, and other beneficial insects, animals, and our planet.
If you are as passionate about protecting your environment as we are, be sure to try these tips! These organic gardening ideas are all safe and sustainable, so you can feel good about helping yourself and the earth at the same time.
We wish you the best of luck and thank you for doing your part to help protect our planet and the animals on it.