Lawn & Garden

The Benefits of Green Gardening

Mark Cullen

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Going green is a great way to give back to your garden. Not only does it reduce household waste, but also improves the quality of your garden! It’s easier to do than you might think and has the added bonus of saving you money on water and fertilizers.Composting_600x150I’ve long been an avid promoter of composting and it’s still the best (and cheapest) way to enrich your soil. Your soil is hungry for nutrients and composting is simply feeding back to the earth what it produced in the first place. The raw materials for your compost come down to two types. There is the soft, or green, material that is high in nitrogen, like kitchen scraps, spent tomato or perennial plants, and grass clippings. Then there is the dry, or brown material, like dry leaves, straw, shredded newspaper, paper towels and cardboard. This stuff is high in carbon and it’s essential for healthy soil. It’s like a high-fibre diet for your garden!

It’s easy to get started composting.  First step is to find the backyard composter that suits your needs. If you’d like, this can be a great DIY project, or Home has a variety of pre-made compost bins to choose from. Next, you’ll likely want to choose a countertop composter to make composting as easy and convenient as possible.  I love the Natura Countertop Composter because it has a charcoal filter to protect against odour and fruit flies – plus it’s stainless steel design looks great on the counter.

Ideally your compost should be a layers or organic waste in a ratio of 1 green waste to 3 brown waste. This helps to achieve the right balance of nitrogen and carbon for your garden. It’s a good idea to turn your compost every couple of months – if you don’t have a tumbling composter, a garden fork is an ideal tool for the job. Consider adding a some manure or compost accelerator if you’re just starting your compost pile – this will help to kick-start the process. In a couple of months, you should have rich, dark, nutrient-dense compost that you can add to your garden.
Rainwater_600x150When you harvest rainwater to use in your garden, you’ll not only save money, but your plants will thrive. Rainwater offers two distinct advantages over water from the hose or tap. First off, unlike treated water, it’s charged with oxygen, which plants crave. And secondly, it’s warm. Tender plants like tomatoes, geraniums and petunias suffer from a shivery shower of cold water. Rainwater is all that I use on my container plants.

A rain barrel connected to a downspout is all you need to get started on collecting your own rainwater. My Mark’s Choice Rain Barrel  offers sturdy construction and features a flat back so it can sit flush to your house or garden shed.

A garden only needs a few simple ingredients: good earth, good water, some good sun and a little care. By composting and collecting your own rainwater, you’ll be going green, saving money, and be well on your way to growing a healthier, more productive garden.

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