Growing fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs for your family’s table is already an environmentally friendly activity, but with a little effort you can reduce your dependency on artificial herbicides and pesticides, making it even more eco-conscious.
The ecologically conscious gardener
Gardening, as taught by our parents, is more of a struggle to impose our will on the environment than it is to grow vegetables in harmony with nature. We lay out straight rows of seeds, add nutrient rich soil, water and then spray with herbicides to prevent diseases from decimating our garden. Pest insects are kept away with pesticides and all the poisons we spray in and around our plants are washed into the environment with the first rain storm.
Although the amount of pesticide and herbicide runoff from one garden is just a drop of poison in our ecosystem, when you multiply it by all the small gardeners, the larger farmers and other industries that commonly use these products you can see how one person’s contribution can make a difference.
Growing in harmony with nature has many beneficial effects on the environment and can also make your garden interesting and unique. Try the following tips to make your garden eco-friendlier while saving money on the cost of additives and pesticides:
Tip #1: Make your own compost. Setting up your own compost bin has several advantages. It reduces your waste footprint while saving you money on buying enriched soil to help your plants grow better. It will give you nutrient rich compost to add to your garden but it takes time for the compost to ‘ripen.’ Since it takes between six and nine months to get your compost ready to use, you want to make it difficult for pets and animals to get in it by fencing it in or enclosing it. Table scraps make for great compost but avoid throwing meat products or bones in your compost since they will attract pests.
Tip #2: Make your garden bug friendly. There are many insects that benefit your garden. Ladybugs, ground beetles, lacewings and other insects feed on pest species, like aphids. Cultivating plants that attract these predators will reduce your dependency on insecticides to protect your plants.
Tip #3: Keep snails and slugs under control. Much like pest insects; slugs, snails, caterpillars and similar pests can be kept under control by attracting the predators that feed on them while making your garden unattractive to their predations. Bird feeders in strategic locations will bring our winged friends who will be happy to grab a quick meal. If you cannot attract enough birds to keep the snail and slug population under control, you can create barriers against them using ecologically friendly slug pellets or crushed eggshells.
Tip #4: Practice companion planting. Certain types of plants grow better the closer together they are, while other combinations can have unfortunate consequences. For example, planting sage around your cabbages will make it unattractive to cabbage moths. Marigolds repel beetles, nematodes and other pests when they are grown with most other plants. There are many combinations that protect your plants from pests.
From the beginning
When planning your garden and adding to your seed collection, consider the seeds you are hoping to use and determine how well they will work together. Start your composting efforts early enough to have a steady supply of nutrient rich compost to feed to your plants.
With your garden planned, you should have little trouble in keeping pest species away while encouraging healthy growing of your plants. You have made your garden environmentally friendly while ensuring your family has healthy foods.