At the Garden Gate

by Carol Vaughn

How organic is your garden?  Soil is where it starts.

Number 2 of a series

Read the first of the series.


Things to think about. We live on the lake and beside a river.

So, how organic is your own garden? Is composting really worth the effort? Are there a variety of birds, bees and butterflies performing aerial maneuvers around your yard? Are all your plants blooming where they are planted now?

Soil is where it all starts. Build healthy soil with compost and mulch. Whether you make compost at home or buy it in bags, you should have 1-3 inches of compost, leaves, grass, bark or wood chips. This helps to conserve water, prevent weeds and feed the soil. If you need fertilizerÖgo organic! Organic slow release fertilizers feed plants longer and are less likely to wash off into the lake or river. Healthier plants grow in healthy soil, itís one of the key things that make plants Ďhappyí.

When you know your yard, where the sun shines, how much shade you have and where the wind is strongest, you are well on your way to selecting the right plant for the right space. Group plants by their needs for sun, water and soil.

Invest the time in companion planting and you will be resisting pests too. Plant beneficial plants to attract the frequent fliers and the nectar lovers will pollinate your plants, fruit and veggie crops. Bonus.

(next column)

13/02/2009 04:14 PM

Practicing smart watering just makes sense. Many plant problems are caused by overwatering. You will grow healthier plants by watering deeply, moistening the whole root zone, then let the soil dry out before watering again. The added benefit is that you will save on your water bill too.

Think twice before you reach for the pesticide. These products are bad for fish and wildlife, hard on soil and harmful to our pets and families. Instead, buy pest resistant plants. Also, identify the problem before you spray or squash. Most bugs are good bugs and they, in fact, help to control the bad ones. There are plenty of choices now to having a healthy garden.

Don't forget, lawn is garden too. Itís easy to use these practices on our lawns too, but it's often the place where we use the most chemicals and water. Try instead, mowing higher and leaving the clippings to make your lawn healthier ... and itís free fertilizer. Aerate your lawn, overseed and top dress with compost in the early spring and again in the fall. Itís all a lawn really needs.

Spring is really just around the corner, so dream of forsythia, watch for the willows to show their early colour and look for the grape hyacinth hiding along the path. Sharpen your tools, call your gardener and get ready for a new beginning.

Also read about Carol


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