Tips to make Gardening More Effective, Enjoyable and Environmentally Friendly
Garden blogger, Shelley Wigglesworth, shares her top 5 tips for gardening.
1. Invest in good tools gradually (one or two a year) and take care of them.
Gradually accumulate quality garden tools and take proper care of them. My top five tool picks to acquire first are: A medium sized garden shovel, hand trowel, pruner, garden fork and a wheelbarrow. These basic pieces of equipment will be frequently used for most gardening projects. Keep your tools in excellent working order by thoroughly cleaning and inspecting tools at the beginning and end of the growing season. Tighten screws, oil wheels and crevices and provide any other needed maintenance during these times. It is also important to properly store tools in a potting shed or other sheltered area when not in use.
2. Use a rain barrel
A rain barrel is a seasonal, outside container system that collects and stores rainwater that would otherwise be lost or diverted to storm drains. The collected rainwater is stored and saved for future gardening use. Rainwater is “soft water” that contains no chlorine, lime or calcium; therefore, providing a healthier alternative to tap water for plants. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, forty percent of total household water used during the months of June, July and August is from lawn and garden watering. A rain barrel is one way to decrease that estimate—or possibly eliminate it all together.
3. Plant manageable gardens
A small garden can be just as beautiful and fruitful as a large garden. Plant vegetables and flowers that you enjoy and know you will use—and nurture those. After all, who wants to spend time and effort on row after row of zucchini or summer squash—unless, of course, you plan on sharing. If sharing the fruits of your labor is your goal, don’t forget to contact local food shelters and soup kitchen with surplus veggies from your garden.
4. Know your soil
Soil tests are a good idea before planting. For a modest fee, your state university’s Master Gardener program will provide soil test kits with directions for soil collection. After collecting a small portion of your soil, simply mail it back to the university for analysis in a pre-paid, pre-printed box. Soil test results will be mailed back to you—usually with in a few weeks—with recommendations and amendment suggestions to optimize your soil for growing.
5. Use natural pest control whenever possible.
The easiest way to do this is to make your outdoor living space welcoming to birds and bees by using bird feeders, installing bird houses, bee boxes and bat boxes. Birds and bats will help to keep the insect populations under control. Bees will pollinate. During the growing season-introduce beneficial predator insects such as dragon flies and ladybugs to feed on aphids and other nuisance insects that devour plants. (Sorry there is no known insect predator for the Japanese Beetle) Your state’s Master Gardener program will be happy to provide information on obtaining approved beneficial predator insects.
New England University Master Gardener Web site links: