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8 Tips to Care for Your Garden

Eating organic produce has become a popular healthy living trend; however buying organic produce can get expensive quickly. To cut back on the amount of money you’re spending on produce you can grow your own organic vegetables instead. By keeping your garden “green” and insecticide free you will have healthier foods to not only serve your family, but also to prepare your own baby food from.  To start making changes in your garden today, check out the following tips for a “greener” garden.

  1. Compost is known as black gold for gardens. Compost can be purchased, but it’s much cheaper to make your own.  By recycling kitchen scraps, grass clippings, and dried leaves you can create your own compost while simultaneously keeping a bunch of yard waste from going to the landfill.  Compost brings beneficial nutrients to your plants, keeps weeds to a minimum, keeps the soil fluffy, and helps the soil stay moist longer.
  2. Newspapers are biodegradable and work great to keep weeds down naturally. If you’ve ever left anything lying on your lawn you know that it doesn’t take long before the grass beneath it starts to turn yellow and die.  To use newspapers in your garden, weed the area where there will be no plants and then lay several layers of newspaper on the bare ground and water them.  Cover the wet newspapers with mulch to dress up the area.  This technique works well for paths through your garden as well as around bushes in your landscape.  Weeds cannot grow up through the newspaper, but water will still soak through it.  As the newspaper breaks down just add new paper on top of the old.
  3. Organic pesticides can be made at home for pennies. To stop powdery mildew on cucumber and zucchini plants spray them with milk that has been diluted with water.  A simple salt water solution of 1 T. of salt to 1 gallon of water will chase away slugs, spider mites and cabbage worms.  Just spray your plants and you’re done.  To deter all insects spray a combination of hot pepper, water and soap onto plants.
  4. Companion planting will naturally deter insects in your garden. Plant marigolds next to tomato plants.  The strong smell of the flowers will keep away green black flies.  Plant nasturtium next to cabbages to avoid getting unwanted holes in your cabbages.  Caterpillars love nasturtium and will leave the cabbages alone.  Plant carrots and leeks together because they each chase away insects for the other.  Leeks will repel carrot flies and carrots will repel onion flies and leek moths.
  5. Rain barrels are a smart way to reduce your water usage. Capturing rain and storing it in some sort of barrel or container is a method that has been used for the last 2000 years, and one that’s easier than ever now.  Buy a rain barrel and follow the directions on the barrel to attach it under a gutter.  The water will collect in the barrel and you can use that water to water your garden when necessary.  Rain barrels range in price from $69.95 to $99.95.  A mere ½ inch of rain will fill a typical 50 gallon barrel.  Barrels can be hooked together to give you the ability to store even more water.
  6. Use beneficial insects to rid your garden of the bad ones. By planting butterfly plants and blue, purple, or violet flowers that bees are attracted to you can encourage beneficial bugs to come to your garden.  It’s also possible to buy lady bugs to get rid of aphids, worms to aerate the soil, and many other helpful bugs that perform different functions in the garden.  Daddy long legs do no harm to vegetables or people, but they love eating aphids, caterpillars, beetles, flies, mites, small slugs, and decaying plant matter, making them highly beneficial to your garden. 
  7. Grow native plants in your yard. By growing plants that are indigenous to your area you will reduce the amount of water you have to use to keep them alive.  Plants that occur naturally develop their own defenses against bugs, blight, and drought.
  8. Use mulch to limit water evaporation. Mulch can often be picked up for free from your city.  By using natural mulch you will not introduce harmful chemicals into your garden.  Mulch around your plants to keep down weeds and to keep the moisture in the soil.  You will not have to water as often if you have a nice thick layer of mulch around your plants.  Make sure not to push the mulch too close to the plants as it could cause them to become too wet and begin to rot.

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