Friday, April 23, 2010

Four Tips to Make Your Garden More “Green”

Vegetable gardeners have been going green long before it was main stream to do so, and no I am talking about making the plants greener in color or your neighbors green with envy. I can remember way back in the 70s when I would help my dad with his soil as he would bury our leftovers in his garden. When I asked him why, he told me that worms eat the leftovers and turn it into nutrients that the vegetable plants love. No one in the neighborhood would argue with him as many of the neighbors literally lined up for a beefsteak tomato or two. They truly were the best. Today those “leftovers turned into nutrients” is what we call vermicompost or worm castings when it is broken down by worms.

Today our society is very self conscious about making sure we reuse and recycle everything. If it saves us money in the long run then let’s face it, you will get more people on board. Here are four things you can implement today that will help you get multiple uses from various items with a little help from being a vegetable gardener.

I already gave you the first one and that is to compost your food leftovers. Ok actually my dad gave that one to you but he’s not writing this article so for now I will take the credit, but thanks dad! Your coffee grinds to leftover lasagna are all open game for this little technique. The only thing you should avoid are burying steak bones, ham bones etc. They won’t break down at all. However you could grind them up and turn them into bone meal, but that’s a lot of work and it could be expensive which is what we are really trying to avoid. Just dig a hole eighteen or more inches deep, put the leftovers in, and cover the hole and your done.

You can easily get triple use from that plastic one gallon milk container. Obviously the first use is holding the milk. Once the milk is gone, rinse the container of leftover milk residue, fill with water and put in your freezer. It makes for a nice block of ice, especially in the summertime when you are having those outdoor barbecues and need to keep those drinks cold in the cooler. That is use number two. You can easily just keep using it for ice if you so choose, however you can also cut the bottom of the container off, and use it as a covering for your warmer plants like tomatoes or peppers. You put the milk container over them at night to protect them from cold temperatures.

If you have children like I do, and they like eating yogurt, like mine do, then save those yogurt cups because they make for great starter pots. I have accumulated a few dozen yogurt cups over the years and they make for starting my plants indoors, much easier. I fill with garden soil, taken directly from my garden, put in the seeds, place them underneath a flipped over glass aquarium (that I saved from the garbage) and create an indoor greenhouse for my plants. Works like a charm! Oh, yeah, don’t forget to drill holes in the bottom for drainage.

Finally, and this makes a great project for kids, is to use empty egg cartons. Not the ones made from Styrofoam, but the cardboard variety. First drill holes in the bottom of each egg cup to make sure the water drains properly. Then fill each cup with soil. Next, put your seed of choice in each cup covering them with ample soil. Add some water and place either, as before, underneath something that creates an indoor greenhouse, or on your window sill that receives sun first thing in the morning. Once the plants have sprouted and are large enough to move outdoors (weather permitting of course), take a pair of scissors and cut each egg carton cup into its own individual cup and plant the whole thing, cup and all!

Sure, none of these ideas will save the world in one day but they will help save you a little time, some money, add nutrients to your soil and help you do a fun project with the kids. Enjoy!

About the Author
Mike is the author of the book ”Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person” and the administrator for the largest vegetable gardening group on Facebook. Mike can be reached via his website

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