Friday, June 5, 2009

Going Green as a Gardener

By default gardeners are green, green thumbed that is. They take necessary steps to cultivate their land, regardless of the size, and do the things to make their gardens a success. But did you know you can also do some other things that not only will add to your green thumb but make you go green and be more environmentally friendly? Here are some things as a gardener you can start implementing today for a cleaner environment.

Recycle Water
Well you are not really recycling water but what you are doing to trapping rain water to be used at a later date so you do not pull more water from the municipal supply. You do this by using a rain barrel, which is just really a fancy word for a container that catches rain water from your down spouts. Just use a garbage can, rubber maid container or something similar and instead of your rain down spouts just going to the ground, redirect them into your containers. When they get full, use the water in your garden.

Battery Power to the Rescue
Whether it’s mowing your lawn or tilling the dirt, there are battery powered alternatives to gasoline that can do just as good a job. Today’s lithium batteries are far superior to the ones built just a couple of years ago. They have become lighter, stronger and they last longer meaning longer use in between chargers. Grab yourself a solar powered battery charger (or make one if you are handy) and your power tools will never need gas or the grid.

Reuse Old Wood
Do you build things for your gardens such as benches, tables and so on? Instead of going to your local home center and buying new, find someone who is giving away old wooden pallets. A simple search in your area on Craigslist or your local newspaper will yield you plenty of results. Then take that wood and your building.

Cardboard Egg Cartons
From now on buy the eggs that come in the cardboard style egg cartons as opposed to the Styrofoam version. Styrofoam takes hundreds of years to decompose, where as you can use the cardboard cartons as planters for your seedlings, and get his, you can plant the cardboard because it is biodegradable. Now how’s that for going green!

Plant the right Plants
You are already a gardener so that makes you an expert at planting right? Did you know by planting trees and shrubs to block out the sun from your house will cool it down in the summertime? Better yet they can block the wind in the wintertime and that will keep your house warmer. Trees take years to grow so it would be best to get started right away.

Last but not least, but last for a reason, all good gardeners do the ultimate environmentally friendly technique of composting. This is where you take organic material, such as food waste, leaves, grass, twigs, etc., and let it rot. This is done either by burying it so the ecosystem underneath your soil can do it for you, or in a container called a compost bin. The United States creates over a trillion pounds of organic waste per year that ends up in a landfill. We can reduce 100% of the space if composted our organic material.

As you can see none of these ideas will cost you an arm or a leg nor will they cause you to make life altering changes. But what they will do is get you closer to being greener by helping the environment.

About the Author
Mike is the co-author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. It is a practical easy to follow book that teaches gardeners everything from composting techniques, aeration and frost conditions, to choosing the right tools and picking the right seeds.


  1. I could add the soda bottle green house to this list; to give tender plants a 'jacket' during the early days of spring you cut the bottom off a PET bottle and places it over the plant as a tiny, private green house. Remove the cap to allow for ventilation.

    Of course this means someone has to consume a lot of soda or bottled water (not a good thing), but by starting a collection round in the neighbourhood during January and February you could cheat and let several persons do the work for you. Since the bottles are made of plastic it's possible to use them over several year, so take care of them once the season is over.

    I really long for a real garden...

  2. Great idea with the soda bottle...instead of drinking all that soda and bottled water yourself, you could also hit the local recycle is convenient to go to in my area, not sure about everyone elses.