With apologies to Kermit the Frog,my garden is fairly Green, and it’s been fairly easy. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about “living Greener,” and decided to summarize my progress so far.
The Garden in the Woods is not strictly organic, but it’s close. Compost is my soil amendment of choice, and I order a truckload once or twice a year in addition to composting everything in sight. I keep other soil amendments to a minimum and choose organic options when I do amend. As an example, I added greensand and soil acidifier from Espoma to the blueberry beds when I installed them last year. I avoid pesticides like the plague. On the other hand, some of the raised beds are built with treated timbers and the containers are filled with commercial, fertilizer enriched potting soil. I’ve also fed roses and houseplants with Osmocote or Schultz African Violet food.
The garden is almost entirely pesticide free. I plead guilty to using really scary poisons to kill wasps when they build a nest in the window frame . Otherwise, I can say (with a straight face) that I use integrated pest management. It goes something like this:
- Plant lots of flowers, claiming that they attract beneficial insects (What do you mean butterflies aren’t beneficial?!)
- Admire all insects (especially butterflies) until there is significant damage to a plant I care about
- Frantically research in books and online to identify the perpetrator
- If it’s deer or rabbits, swear to fence everything next year
- If it’s an insect, spray forcibly with a hose or handpick and drop perpetrators into soapy water, gleefully watching them drown
The garden isn’t sustainable and isn’t an example of permaculture. I’m working toward minimizing the outside materials that need to be added, and working toward establishing a stable system that mimics nature, but those goals are a long way off. On the other hand, I water responsibly; I use minimal fertilizer; I compost everything in sight; I’ve started mulching with wood chips since I can get a pile when we have a tree cut down. I’m learning to save seeds. Sustainability is a very important goal for me, even if I never reach it. I keep threatening to add chickens and beehives…
I’m not much of a plant snob. I love many native plants, but I also love many non-native plants. When I buy plants, they are nursery propagated. Plants gathered from the wild can severely damage populations of fragile natives, and I don’t want my plant dollars to support that.
I avoid anything identified as invasive on the list for my STATE, and rip out any offenders that appear in my yard. I also pay close attention to how much anything I plant spreads and remove anything that’s truly invasive. I consider my mint collection very aggressive, but NOT invasive.
There’s definitely room for improvement. I’m very serious about growing vegetables this year, picking fruit locally and shopping at farmer’s markets to improve our household intake of local, organic fruits and vegetables. I’ve compiled a long list of canning recipes to try, part of a plan to stockpile homemade spaghetti sauce, tomatoes, salsa, ketchup, jam, chutney, preserves, and frozen and canned fruits and berries, and I’m researching organic, local meat, milk and eggs. I considered joining a CSA, but as Ed said, “We’re our own CSA.” We’ll be eating much more local food, and much more organic food this year.
I have plans to expand my composting and build a set of good sized bins for a multi-year composting arrangement. I have PLENTY of straw and leaves for “brown” materials. It may even reach the point where enough compost is generated from the house and yard to maintain a bed or two.
In closing, here’s a gallery of the wildlife here in the Garden in the Woods. This is how I know I’m fairly Green, and its your reward for reading all the way through this post. Photo credits go to my daughter who posts at http://cricketwerks.tumblr.com/
Here’s to greener gardening as part of a greener planet!