Tag Archives: Gardening

Organic Gardening: 7 Things You Can Repurpose to Use in Your Garden

It makes both good sense, and good cents, to grow your own vegetables at home in an organic garden. No matter how much or how little space and/or time you have, you can still plant a container garden and harvest some home grown tomatoes and peppers. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or trying out your green thumb for the first time in organic gardening, try these ideas for 7 things you can recycle to use in your garden.

Food Scraps

Any food items other than meat scraps or grease can be recycled into compost and used to enrich your soil, which in turn feeds plants and enables them to yield a bigger harvest. Used coffee grounds and crumbled egg shells are two of the best soil amendments and can be placed directly on top of the soil (in-ground or container gardens) to nourish plants. Create a small compost pile to toss other food scraps until they decompose into ‘black gold’ then work into garden soil for free and chemical-free compost.

Tin Cans

Large tin cans, like those that spaghetti sauce or juice come in, can be recycled and used as feeding and watering tubes for garden plants. Wash the tin cans and cut both ends. Dig a hole the size of the tin can in the garden soil and place the can in the soil, then plant a few vegetables around the can. Use the open-ended tin can to deliver water directly to plant roots throughout the growing season. Make compost tea to pour in the cans to provide organic food to plants.

Recycled Mulch

Grass clippings and tree leaves (raked during the fall) provide free, organic mulch for vegetable plants. Mulch helps keep the soil cool, retain moisture and discourage weed growth.

Plastic Milk Jugs

Get a head start on the growing season by using clean plastic milk jugs as mini greenhouses. Cut the bottom fourth off a gallon milk jug and place over tiny vegetable seedlings to provide them with protection from the elements and create a greenhouse environment. Remove lid on warm days and replace during cold nights.

Plastic Buckets

Food grade plastic buckets that are used in the deli and restaurant industry are perfect for recycling into harvesting buckets. The size, handles and lids make these buckets perfect for carrying to the garden to harvest fresh produce and for transporting vegetables.

Pantyhose

Many vegetable plants, like tomatoes and cucumbers, need to be staked and tied to keep them off the ground during the growing season. Nothing beats strips of used pantyhose for tying vegetable plants to their support system. Pantyhose stretch and will not cut into tender vines like rope or twine will and the nylon fabric is strong enough to last all summer.

Recycled Support

Tree limbs that have been pruned can be fashioned into a tee-pee for supporting climbing veggies, like cucumbers and sugar snap peas. Old iron headboards, fence posts or shovel handles or other tall, portable items can be given new life in an organic garden as vegetable stakes and trellises to keep produce off the ground.

Jeremy Aarons writes about home improvement, parenting and all things related to being a stay at home dad. Recently, he’s explored his journey earning a sociology degree online while spearheading a communal garden for his neighborhood.

 

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Two Environmental Actions You Can Take to Address Multiple Problems at Once

Every day brings more reasons to be concerned about the modern economy’s environmental costs. These costs were once effectively hidden from view, but mass media, social networking, and the scale of consumer activity have all brought knowledge of environmental destruction into everyone’s backyard. A walk in the local park will more than likely reveal tires, abandoned construction materials and other toxic trash, and almost every waterway features a polluting industry upstream that makes parents warn their kids to not go swimming.

The scale of pollution and abuse being heaped on the places many adults safely enjoyed just decades ago can be disheartening. The idea that dealing with these problems effectively requires sacrifice is a popular one, and it adds to the hopelessness. Everyday people have shown time and again, however, that caring for the land provides benefits far in excess of the sacrifice. Positive actions can even provide savings in your budget. Consider these two actions to begin visualizing what is possible.

Master Gardeners 015

Organizing Clean-ups

American culture is filled with stories of rugged individualism where one person begins doing something for the benefit of all only to be joined by others in the same pursuit. Why not start off with community involvement? Some parks are regularly maintained by municipal areas for public relations purposes. Other parks, and even out of the way places in popular parks, are often left uncared for by bureaucracies with limited budgets. There may be ordinances against dumping, but these areas become filled with waste. A lot of it is toxic.

Partnering with a local environmental group to sponsor a clean-up of your favorite park will have profound effects. The water will be cleaner for starters, and outdoors enthusiasts will find these more isolated areas enhance their ability to enjoy the local flora and fauna. Removing old tires in these locations will dramatically reduce mosquito populations.

This action could easily be combined with local recycling programs or efforts to replace invasive plants with native vegetation. The possibilities depend only on your dedication and community resources.

Gardening

The combination of pesticide use, monoculture farms and yards, and a general fear of insects and germs has combined to reduce wildlife and put species diversity in danger. The most common remedy for this is planting native plants that provide food for native wildlife. If attracting local butterflies and songbirds to your yard isn’t enough of a benefit, native plants can always be chosen based on their usefulness. A little research will reveal every region has a number of native plants that once provided inhabitants with food, medicines, and aesthetic pleasure.

Any individual can make this effort, but community efforts will create more opportunities. Partnerships with native plant societies and trusts created by concerned citizens can ensure larger tracts of land will always be available to future community gardeners. Summer and after-school programs can receive grants with the right non-profit partnership, which will ensure a safe place for children to get exercise and learn local lore from older generations.

Of course, native gardening is only part of the picture. Vegetable gardens and miniature forests can also be used for the same effects. Many gardeners combine all of these with composting, vermiculture, chicken cooping, and other efforts. A combination of clean-ups and gardening will reduce your impact on the land and reduce the community’s impact on the global systems everyone relies upon.

Billie Seddon is a conservation writer who works with NRDC and other organizations to protect our health and environment. She urges everyone to learn about the damaging effects being caused by extreme weather conditions.

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Deer repellent tactics to protect your garden and plants

Spring and summer are characterized by lush leaves and budding flowers. However, they are also the seasons when hungry deer emerge from the woods to snack on delicacies found within the garden. Deer repellent tactics will keep deer out of the yard without causing them any permanent harm.

One way to deter deer is by installing a fence around the garden. The fence will need to be at least eight feet high because hungry deer will not hesitate to jump high in order to get some food. Thorny branches or netting should be interspersed with the fencing to provide further deterrent.

Fencing can be quite expensive, depending on the size of the fence and material used. Many homeowners will not have the necessary skills to install a fence themselves, so they will need to contact a professional. The labor charges in addition to the cost of materials can make this quite an investment. There is also no guarantee that a very hungry deer will not leap over this tall fence.

Try using repellent sprays in the garden as an alternative deterrent method. Sprays can be concocted at home using ingredients like soap or rotten eggs and water. There are many recipes on the Internet so try some of these or ask a local garden expert for recommendations.

The sprays sold online and in stores may contain chemicals or they may be entirely organic. Purchase one to treat the perimeter of the area or select the variety that is sprayed directly on the vegetables and flowers. Since these products are low-cost, test out some different brands to find the one most effective at deterring the deer in the area.

Incorporate deer repellent plants and flowers amongst the other items in the garden. Check online to see what shrubs and flowers will grow best in the garden’s climate. A deer may nibble on some of these but will then get a nauseous feeling in its stomach. The condition is temporary, but it will cause the deer to think twice before chewing on flowers and plants in the garden again.

There is a form of deer repellent for every budget and garden size. Fencing, sprays, and certain flowers and shrubs that deter deer are each effective in their own way. Find out what works best in your garden so you can rest easy that those prize roses will not be a deer’s next snack.

There are many ways you can protect your garden from deer. Visit our site and read about deer repellent recipes, deer resistant plants, studies and surveys about the variety of repellents and what others are doing. You can also post your questions and get answers.

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Starting an Organic Garden

Guest Post:

Contrary to popular opinion, pesticides and man-made fertilizers are not necessary to create an attractive and productive garden. Commercialized gardening chemicals can be dangerous, especially if you are growing food in your garden. Organic gardening is much healthier both for the plants and for the gardener who is working with them.

The first thing to do is pick an area that gets at least half a day’s worth of sunshine. It will also need to have good access to water and be able to drain well, or you could raise your garden bed a few inches from the ground.

To prevent weeds you will first need to dig and pull out any ones that are remaining, rake out the debris after you are done to ensure that the area is completely clear, you can wait a little while to see if any weeds sprout again. Afterward you should add natural compost to the soil along with greensand. The sand will help supply your soil with phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.

Dig up some of bed soil and mix it with the fertilizer, if the ground is clay you should add additional sand to it. Leave the soil for about a month so the nutrients can be properly distributed. During the meantime you can find organic mulch to place over the soil, ground bark or coconut husks work great for this.

You should also create a compost pile in the back of your garden. Any extra leaves, natural food waste, and anything organic can be placed in this pile. This will make for an excellent fertilizer with all the necessary nutrients. You will need to be careful when placing some foods on the compost pile as they may smell or attract rodents, some natural kitchen waste will be fine. Another great source of organic fertilizer is grass trimming from when you are finished mowing the lawn, they break down fairly quickly and are easy to handle.

Home Turned Green: resources for indoor gardens and outdoor gardens.

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