Here they are—your gardening New Year’s Resolutions!
Let’s face it; ‘conventional’ American gardeners have a LOT of bad habits: They feed their plants high explosives, scalp their lawns so low that dirt blows out the back of the mower, smother their poor trees’ trunks with chipped-up pallets and think every bug is a pest to be pilloried. But no more! It’s a new beginning! A New Year in which you’ll have your best garden EVER—because you’re gonna raise your right hand (“ahem—your OTHER right hand…”) and repeat these resolutions after me:
I WILL strive to get my plants off drugs and go organic! Get back here, scaredy cat! All this means is you won’t be attacking the environment (and yourself) with caustic chemical fertilizers like Miracle-Gro and Osmocote, hormonally-harmful herbicides like Roundup and poisonous pesticides like Sevin and Dursban. Instead...
I WILL make (or buy, borrow, or steal...) compost! Commercial fertilizers contain harsh chemical salts whose other worldly use is the manufacture of high explosives. These unnecessary additives weaken your plants by forcing them to grow faster than Nature ever intended, which makes them much more susceptible to pest and disease attack. (And the chemicals pollute our waterways and natural areas. And none of the other girls like them. And…) Instead, feed your garden the way Nature feeds the forests—with compost made from shredded leaves. Or with the super-natural castings produced by worms, a bin and your kitchen waste. Two inches of compost or one inch of worm castings provides all the food ANY plant needs for a year, and they make your landscape naturally resistant to disease and insect pests.
I WILL water correctly! Frequent short sprinkles are a cheap tease that results in weak, shallow-rooted plants. Your lawn and garden want a MAJOR soaking; an inch of water (which is a LOT) once a week. If Nature provides that, sit on your hose. If Nature doesn’t, try and deliver it all in one shot, ending just as the sun is rising. NEVER water in the evening and then let your lawn or garden stay wet overnight. And never EVER water every day; your plants’ roots need to dry out between waterings.
I WILL mulch. Applying a one to two inch layer of shredded leaves, dried grass clippings from an herbicide free lawn, or compost around your plants will help retain soil moisture, keep your plants’ roots nice and cool during heat waves, AND prevent weeds. (Just don’t use wood; although they are touted as ‘mulch’, wood chips and shredded bark are actually disease-breeding, plant food stealing waste disposal problems.)
I will NOT kill my grass! Most Americans cut all the green growth off their lawns every weekend, then complain about how bad it looks and pour chemicals on top. Instead, simply adjust your mower’s cutting height to allow the grass to reach its natural height and it will thrive. That’s two to two and a half inches for warm season grasses down South; three inches for Northern cool-season grasses in full sun and three and a half inches for cool season lawns in shade. Giving your lawn the correct cut will help it grow deep roots that crowd out even the worst weeds. A lawn that’s correctly cut also looks great, with fewer visible ruts and bare spots. And correctly cut lawns grow slower than scalped ones—which means you’ll do MUCH less cutting!
I WILL ‘mulch’ my clippings! Fresh grass clippings are 10% nitrogen by weight. Nitrogen is a lawn’s favorite food. Lawns thrive on fertilizers that are 10% Nitrogen. Sense a pattern here? Use a mulching mower to return the pulverized clippings to your turf and you’ll supply a full half of the food your lawn needs—and you won’t have to deal with messy clippings. Oh, and men—don’t try using the ‘thatch’ excuse here. Those ugly dead stolons aren’t caused by returning the nutrients in grass clippings to your lawn—they’re caused by overuse of chemical fertilizers.
I will NOT panic when I see a bug! Only a VERY small percentage of insects are pests. A larger percentage are beneficials that either prey on true pests or pollinate plants. And the vast majority of insects are neither friend nor foe—they’re just there. So don’t go killing everything you see—a lot of buzzing and flying is often just a sign that your garden is healthy and organic. If you do IDENTIFY a true pest, spray it with something non-toxic like insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. But leave ‘unknown’ bugs alone—they’re probably there to help.
I WILL ABSOLUTELY HAVE FUN!!! Don’t lose sight of WHY we love to grow things. Nature is beautiful and relaxing. We try and capture the spirit of Nature when we garden. So let Nature do her thing and you relax and have a good time. Your sanctuary of solace is no place for poisons.
Green GuardTM Plant Growth Enhancer - Green Guard strengthens plants naturally by stimulating their defense and growth mechanisms, and improving plants’ ability to protect themselves from environmental stresses.
Pyola® Insect Spray - Provides natural pest control without harmful chemicals. Easy to use and fast acting.