Posts Tagged With: Organic horticulture

A Natural Approach to Gardening

A Natural Approach to Gardening

  • Shelley Stonebrook

If you’re interested in growing some of your own food, consider these simple ways to keep your methods of fertilizing, managing common pests, and watering your garden more natural and sustainable.

Fertilizing

Making sure you build your soil so that your crops get adequate nutrients is important—and you can definitely accomplish this goal without buying anything in a package or a plastic jug at a garden center.

One way is to start composting at home, which you can do outdoors by following these composting tips, and/or indoors with a worm composting bin. Dig compost into soil every time you plant a new crop. If you are able to compost outdoors, be sure to save all kitchen scraps and yard debris for your compost. If you use a worm bin, just save enough food scraps to keep your worms fed and happy. I compost indoors and outdoors. And don’t worry: If you take care of your worm bin and don’t add too many food scraps to it at one time, it won’t smell or create indoor pest problems.

Another way to fertilize naturally is to mulch around your plants with organic matter such as grass clippings. The grass clipping mulch, which is rich in nitrogen, will build your soil and feed your plants as it breaks down. Plus, this method is totally free! If you don’t have grass clippings from your own lawn, ask friends or neighbors to bag theirs for you instead of setting them out on the curb (just be sure they don’t use chemicals on their lawns).

You can also feed plants—especially small seedlings— with homemade liquid fertilizers. Find our how in this great guide to brewing liquid fertilizers.

Natural Pest Control

A key element of natural, organic gardening is diversity. Growing a mix of food crops and flowering crops will lead to a diverse insect population, and ultimately less insect damage to your crops. In this article about attracting beneficial insects, learn to grow the right flowers to attract the top 10 beneficials to your garden to minimize damage from aphids, caterpillars, flea beetles and other pests.

Occasionally, you may have to reach for an organic pest control product. Based on what has worked best for experienced gardeners across North America, check out this guide to common garden pests and control methods.

Watering

Depending on your climate, you may have to water your garden frequently in the warmest months of the year—but you can do so in ways that conserve as much water as possible.

Keeping a thick layer of organic mulch on your garden (made up of hay, leaves, newspapers, cardboard and/or grass clippings) is lesson number one in smart garden watering. The mulch will retain moisture, meaning you’ll have to water less often.

Sprinklers and watering wands can tend to use more water than other methods, such as drip lines, soaker hoses, and watering directly to the base of plants by scooping water from a rain barrel. Find out more about garden watering options in this guide to wise watering, and learn how to set up a rain barrel in this DIY guide.

Best of luck to you in your gardens this year!

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4 Ways to Prepare for Winter

4 Ways to Prepare for Winter

 

The official start of winter is about a month away, and there are some practical things you can do around your home and yard now to get ready for the cold. Here are a few simple ways to prepare for winter.

1. Stay warm by sourcing good firewood

If you have a woodstove or fireplace, you’ll surely want to stock up on high-quality, well-seasoned firewood. For tips on splitting and seasoning your own wood, or getting a fair price for wood you purchase, read How to Get the Best Firewood for Clean and Affordable Energy.

2. Set up an emergency kit in case of power outages or winter storms

Sure, when the first big storm is brewing, you can run out to the store with most other folks to stock up on supplies—or, avoid the headache, and get ready now. The no-nonsense tips in Emergency Survival Kits tell you everything you need to know about being prepared.

3. Winterize your garden tools

Around this time of year, you’re likely to come across quite a few tips on winterizing your garden, but what about your trusty garden tools? Take care now to get those tools ready for winter, and they’ll be around for many more years. Learn more by reading How to Winterize Your Garden Tools.

4. Set up a hoop house to grow veggies throughout winter

Like eating fresh veggies all year? Love the idea of picking greens in January? A simple hoop house may be just the thing for you! There’s still a little time to get set up. Find inspiration in the story of a backyard hoop house gardener who harvests loads of goodies all winter.

Happy preparing!

Shelley Stonebrook is an Associate Editor at Mother Earth News—North America’s most popular magazine about sustainable, self-reliant living—where she works on exciting projects such as Organic Gardening content and the Vegetable Garden Planner. Shelley is particularly interested in small-scale, local food production (and consumption), cooking, organic gardening and waste reduction. In her spare time, she shares recipes and gardening tips in her personal blog, The Rowdy Radish.
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