Monday, April 20, 2009

Inexpensive Organic Gardening: Tips for a Healthier Garden.

The organic movement has invaded regular nurseries. When you visit in the coming weeks you can find bags of $25 worm castings, $10 organic soil, organic fertilizers, sustainable pots made from bamboo and on and on. I have no beef with these items, but in honor of Earth Week, I thought I would share some of the great tips I have learned over the years related to organic gardening and doing it without going broke.
1. Cancel the lawn services that spray your lawns. They are killing you soil and polluting our waterways.

2. Buy a mulching blade for your mower and let the clippings stay on the lawn. The worms love them.
3. Let your grass grow long 3-4 ". It will need less water and less weed seeds will germinate in the shade it creates.
4. Unless you are trying to save new sod, don't water your lawn. Let it go dormant. Start showing your kids that this color is a seasonal expectation. You will be helping create a new generation of water savers. Plus, you will save yourself a lot of time!

5. White and pink clover is good for your lawn. Leave it be.

6. Fertilize once or twice a year with time-released, water insoluble nitrogen. These fertilizers are less likely to burn your lawn with excess nitrogen, and slow-release allows the roots to absorb the nutrients as needed. . With fast-acting fertilizers, some nutrients are washed away with watering or rain, and the wasted fertilizer pollutes ground water supplies.

7. Control lawn weeds with corn gluten. It's inexpensive and a nontoxic byproduct of corn processing. It kills weed seedlings within days of application. It also adds nitrogen to your soil.


1. Skip peat pots which destroy habits and instead use recycled containers you find around the house or paper pots you make yourself. Reuse purchased plastic pots each year.

2. Grow some flowering plants native to your area. The birds and bee's that are native to your area will appreciate it.

3. Birds help with pest control. Attract them to your garden with a fresh water source.

4. Put soil building at the top of your priorities in the garden. If done correctly, everything else falls into place.

5. Don't send your fall leaves to a landfill. Dump them on your driveway. Chop them up with your mower and add them to your garden. They are GOLD!

6. Check out the free stuff in your area. Stables often have free manure, sometimes it's already composted. Starbucks will often let you have their coffee grounds.

7. Try out composting or vermicomposting the end products of both are wonderful for the soil.

8. Check out heirlom varieties of vegetables. They taste wonderful and help preserve seed-lines. If you find some that are successful in your yard, google seed saving. It's simple and one tomato can supply next year's entire seed crop for tomatoes!.

9. Rotate your crops to help prevent pests and diseases.

10. Plant french marigolds and basil throughout your garden. Both repel pests and fresh basil, tomato and mozarella salad is hard to beat.

11. Once your tomatoes are in bloom, give them a little shake each day, it helps them to pollinate. Get in the habit of petting them daily when they are small, it helps them grow strong stems.

12. A little bit of epsom salts adds the key minerals of sulfur and magnesium to the soil.

13. Plant your plants a little closer, to shade the soil and decrease watering needs.

14. Mulch with natural products but use caution. Some of the free stuff may be heavily contaminated with diseases or pesticides. Newspaper works as a great weed block underneath wood mulch. The dyes now used in it's print are safe.

15. When you water, water deeply and at ground level, drip irrigation is ideal. Keeping water off of plant leaves helps prevent diseases.

16. Plant to attract pollinators with irrestible temptations such as borage, lantana, butterfly bush, milkweed etc. Not every flower is created equal.

17. Use a crop cover to protect squash and cukes from pests, not pesticides.

18. Fertilize veggies, if needed with compost tea or an organic fish and seaweed product such as Neptune's Harvest. The bottle may seem pricey, but it goes a long way!

19. Support organic farmers, heirlom seed sellers, and CSA's.

20. Plant something to eat. Anything. Commercial growing uses incredible amounts of petroleum, water, and chemicals. Every pound that you grow yourself is that much less that goes to support unhealthy practices. Plus, it's mostly fun and always rewarding. : )


Daphne said...

Ha! Mostly fun. :> I love a lot of the things about gardening that many hate. For instance I love to weed and love turning my compost. The only things I hate is when my plants die, or the leaves get shredded by slugs or hunting those slugs at night.

Martyn Cox said...

Good tips. I like to encourage beneficial wildlife into the garden so they do the dirty work of killing pests for me.

Stacy said...

I hate turning compost so much I switched to worms Daphne! I like most garden activities as well. I think the only hated chores are leaf clean-up in the fall because the scope of it is just ridiculous and turning sod to make new beds.

I do too Martyn. I feel like if the critters are drawn to my yard, I must be doing something right.

mlc said...

I like the colors of your blog, and I like the content. I am a retired bug-killing lady--are maybe a retired plant-growing lady. Not sure which. Very nice earth day blog. Nice to find another new northern garden blogger.

Stacy said...

Thank you MLC. I'm glad to hear of another northern blogger on blotanical. Off to check out your blog!