Help Your Garden Kick the Energy Drink Habit

January 25, 2017

Looking for a new year’s resolution that’s good for you and the environment? We have the answer! Help your garden kick the energy drink habit!

Using synthetic products is like consuming an energy drink. Short term, your garden will look and feel energized but over time it will start to lose that vigor and will likely need more and more in order to sustain it. While energy drinks (aka synthetic products) are fast acting, they will not be able to provide the necessary nutrients your soil needs to help your garden thrive long term.

Synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers have their pros, but they may be harming your landscape without you realizing it. There are plenty of healthy alternatives to a sustainable landscape which will keep your landscape looking great without the use of all those synthetic products.

While synthetic products get absorbed into the soil at a much faster rate and results are generally seen quicker, if not used properly, they can enter streams, lakes, and other groundwater sources and cause water pollution. This can cause problems for any ecosystem that the synthetic products meet, not to mention other people, children, and pets. In the long run, synthetic products can also change the natural balance of nutrients in the soil.

Organic products, on the other hand, release nutrients into the soil at a much slower rate and help improve the soil’s natural makeup over time. If you like to grow fruits and vegetables in your garden, following organic gardening practices can help ensure that you and your family aren’t ingesting harmful chemicals. Manure, compost, mulch and organic fertilizers are all good options to use in your garden instead of synthetic products and will work to improve the nutrient composition of your edibles. Did you know you can get inexpensive mulch and wood chips delivered straight to you? Check out Chip Drop for the details.

Mulch Benefits Photo Courtesy of Oakvillegreen Conservation Association

Mulch Benefits Photo Courtesy of Oakvillegreen Conservation Association

It is good to know though that just because something says it’s organic, does not necessarily mean it’s good for you or your garden. Just like taking natural supplements or herbs, some organic products used improperly can be harmful rather than beneficial. Make sure to read labels thoroughly and research what’s in the products you’re thinking of using in your garden before you buy them.

Pesticides in general are also deadly to both bad and good insects and can do damage in ways you may not imagine. Even though insects and pests can give us the creepy-crawlies sometimes, insects serve a purpose in our garden and most will do more good for your garden than harm. Some insects help pollinate, some help decompose waste matter and make your soil better, and some are food for other animals, like birds. When you use a pesticide to kill any insect you can end up setting off a chain reaction which can throw off the balance in your garden. Beneficial and harmful insects have a symbiotic relationship which allows them to coexist in your garden and help it flourish without you even noticing. You should also remember that if you didn’t have any bad insects in your garden, the good insects would have no reason to stick around.

If you think you might have an insect problem, try introducing predator insects like lady bugs and praying mantis’. These will help keep the pest insects in check without having to kill off all the other beneficial insects in your garden.

Lady Bug

Besides the use of synthetic products, there may be other ways you’re harming your landscape without knowing it.

While making sure your garden is getting enough water, you should be careful of over watering as it can “drown” your lawn and plants and starve the roots of oxygen. At this time of year, most plants are dormant so you do not need to worry about watering. In the spring and summer, having an efficient irrigation system will help with under and over watering.

Leaving weeds to their own devices can also take a toll on your garden. Since weeds have roots just like any other plant, they will compete for nutrients and water in the soil that you want going to the plants you put there on purpose. Pulling weeds in a timely manner before they get out of control and wreak havoc will make your garden look and feel better.

If you’re having an insect or other pest problems, instead of using synthetic pesticides, there are many different plants (or essential oils) and other naturally occurring materials you can use to deter them. Slug problem? Place pine needles, crushed up eggshells or pistachio shells at the base of plants. Mice problem? Use mint plants, or consider getting a cat. Aphids all over? Mint, marigolds, chives, and tin foil (at the base of a plant) will scare them away. There’s also homemade soap and oil solutions that can be mixed with water and sprayed on plants to get rid of insects.

Chives by Chives Photo Courtesty of Tenth Acre FarmTenth Acre Farm

Chives Photo Courtesy of Tenth Acre Farm

Finally, one of the best things you can do to create a healthy, sustainable landscape that benefits you and the environment is to plant the right plants at the right time and in the right place. Use a combination of woody and perennial plants along with native plants to create a beautiful, lush and diverse landscape. A mixture of different plants will create visual variety and using native plants will help reduce your water use once they are established. Being smart about when and where you place plants will also help them thrive and keep them strong against diseases and pest attacks. Make sure you don’t crowd your plants and that your plants’ sunlight and water requirements are being met.

With organic practices becoming more mainstream, it’s easier to find organic gardening products in stores. Now is the the perfect time to make the switch and ditch the chemicals. Organic gardening requires some changes and work on your end, but the reward is worth all your effort!

Do you have a favorite organic gardening product that you just can’t live without?

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