Ace your eco-friendly gardening practices

Mulching, composting, natural and organic products and produce… Are you hoping to learn more about environment-friendly gardening practices? Start right this winter or during the next dry spell!

Organic gardening is, above all, a philosophy or a way of life… It means trying to protect the soil, preserve the fauna and the flora, to rediscover forgotten methods and techniques that are both innovating and reaching far back in the past. Are you intrigued? First things first, get rid of all your synthetic chemical products by dropping them off at your municipal eco-center for proper disposal! After that, take some time to observe the landscaping in your garden, the growing conditions. Work out how you can save water and efforts, determine which tools are needed. Above all, do your best to build the soil up by preparing natural fertilizers from plants like nettles, seaweed, comfrey, fleawort, mustard or ferns…   Start with setting up your compost pile. Then, mulch the ground, and finally, endeavor to work the soil by hand. Three simple ideas with a quick implementation.

Compost is black gold

compostCompost is one of the first steps you can take that will lay out the foundations for your environmentally friendly garden. Especially if you love eating organic vegetables. Stop throwing peels and waste to the garbage bin. Gather them in a composter and they’ll decompose to the point of turning into rich, fertile humus. Humus helps “build up the soil structure while avoiding it growing poorer, since humus contains high levels of nutrients, minerals and trace elements that are crucial for plant life”, advises Fiona Hopes. “Waste stays in the garden, which makes it a sustainable garden.” Ideally, summer and fall is when you’ll be able to spread it out over the garden. There are several composter designs for sale in horticulture stores and DIY shops. And it’s also very easy to build your own, simply with pallet wood, to match one or more of various concepts: thermocomposting, eco-composter, drum composter, digester, bokashi, vermicomposter…

Mulch helps in summer and winter, rain and sun

mulchA basic cornerstone of environmentally-friendly gardening is to ensure the soil always is protected with a layer of organic material, much like forest soil. One method is to plant cover crops that match the way your garden is designed, such as slope, exposure, water availability… Another option is to spread straw, wood chips, plant bark, lawn trimmings, compost, or even simply cardboard or old newspaper at the foot of your plants and vegetables. Even burlap cloth or coconut husks will do the trick. In summer, this layer of mulch will retain water and keep it from evaporating. You’ll save on water, on time spent watering, and it will also hinder growth of all sorts of weeds. In winter, it will protect the soil and roots from frost spells, from excess water, and will break down and feed nutrients into the soil.

Essential gardening tools

gardening toolsNothing helps the soil grow fertile as much as the bonding you can create with it, observing it and carefully working it through. Your flowers and your harvest will be even more beautiful! Among the most useful tools for the eco-friendly gardener, you’ll find: a spade, a spading fork, a transplanter, pruning shears, a cultivator, a rake, a hand hoe, a saw, a wheelbarrow, and, for your comfort, a kneepad. Many specialized brands like Fiskars, Devaux, Revex, Gardena and Leborgne offer handy tools that make working in the garden particularly easy.   Did you know…? It’s an advantage if you can favor copper garden tools, these “don’t interfere with magnetic and electric fields on site and seem to enhance energy flows. One more advantage: they never rust, and they even help fight off snails and slugs!”

Read also: Mon premier jardin biologique facilement [Easily growing my first organic garden], Fiona Hopes, Marabout printing house

Claire Lelong-Lehoang

Image credits: Gardener: ©Bits and Splits, Fotolia | Mulch: ©Romaneau, Fotolia | Compost: ©M. Schuppich, Fotolia | Garden tools: ©K-U Habler, Fotolia