Lawn & Garden
Starting a Garden
Starting a garden can be an overwhelming task for some. But, how thrilling to harvest fresh fruits and vegetables from your own garden. Gardening with fruits and vegetables, herbs, and other edible plant parts is rewarding and can be accomplished without spending a lot of money. In the end a garden can actually save you money on your grocery bill. That $3 tomato plant can provide you with 10 pounds of delicious tomatoes that far exceed anything you will find at the grocery store. You can grow a large amount of produce in a small amount of space and you can be sure it isn't dosed with toxic pesticides.
A garden allows us to connect with our environment and is a great way to teach children where our food comes from. Involve them in the planning of the garden and let them pick some of the items that you will grow. Kids are also more likely to eat those veggies that they grow themselves.
Gardening is a great stress reliever. Getting out in the sunshine and fresh air improves your mood and your health.
Grow the items you buy the most, for the biggest savings.
Depending on how much space you have available, you can plant in containers, raised beds, vertically or directly into the ground in the back yard.
Vertical gardening is training plants to grow upward on cages or on a trellis. Cucumbers and other small fruited vine crops grow great and take less room in the garden. Greens can also be planted in gutters attached to a fence or wall.
-Plan and then plant your garden. Pick a spost that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
-Test and prepare your soil. Most vegetables prefer a pH of 6.0 – 6.8.
-Buy organic seeds and save seeds from your harvest.
-Mulch to avoid excessive weeds and to conserve water. Organic mulches such as grass clippings (untreated), pine bark, leaf mold, aged sawdust, straw and newspapers (black and white print only, no color, shiny advertisement pages) are great mulches to prevent weeds from growing. Inorganic mulches are plastics (come in black, red, silver or clear colored) and weed barrier fabrics.
-Maintain your garden using sustainable gardening techniques: start by selecting plants, try to conserve water, make and use compost, and use integrated pest management (IPM) to prevent and respond to pest problems.
• Ideally rows should run north and south, for maximum sun exposure on all plants.
Controlling Pests In the Home
In order to survive, pests need food, water and living space. Remove all food sources through good sanitation and storage habits (i.e., screw-cap jars, zip-lock bags, garbage pails with tight-fitting lids). Block pest entrances to your kitchen by caulking holes, using door sweeps on the bottom of doors, and keeping window screens in good repair. Avoid placing chemical pesticides around your kitchen to kill indoor insects and rodent pests.
* Avoid using no-pest strips. They contain pesticides that are released into the air in your home.
* Mowing your grass to a height of about 3-4 inches is the most important thing you can do to improve the health of your lawn. By keeping grass length longer, the roots grow deeper and can reach more water during dry periods. Longer grass also creates shade, making it harder for weeds to get established.
Restrict the Use of Phosphorus
Fertilizers, leaves, and grass clippings from lawns contribute to phosphorus problems in our lakes and rivers. Homeowners can protect water quality by using lawn fertilizers that do not contain phosphorus, look for a middle number of zero (i.e. 22-0-15) and sweep up grass clippings from streets and sidewalks after mowing and trimming.
How to Attract Butterflies
Butterflies, with their gorgeous colors and graceful flight, are such a joy to watch. They add so much beauty to our summers, like seeing flowers flying.
It’s easy to invite more butterflies to make a seasonal stop in your yard. Here are some plants they just can’t resist.
Asters: Late summer to fall.
Bee balm (bergamot): Summer through fall.
Butterfly weed: Summer through fall.
Clover (white or red): Summer to fall.
Coreopsis: Summer to fall.
Dianthus: Spring to fall.
Lupine: Late spring to early summer.
Mints: All summer.
Passionflower: Summer to fall.
Phlox: Summer to fall.
Purple coneflower: Summer to fall.
Sage: Summer to fall.
Salvia: Summer to fall.
Scabiosa “Butterfly blue”: Summer through fall.
Shasta daisy: Summer.
Thistle: Late spring through fall.