5 Tips for Sustainable Gardening

Another “Earth Day” has come and gone. While we aren’t knocking any initiative that supports the preservation of our natural resources and over all health of our planet, Earth Day is, quite simply, inadequate. A Sustainable Garden is one way anyone can help.

One day … just ONE day to salute the place we all call home. Compare it to eating just one potato chip or cleaning your house ONE day each year; it’s not necessarily bad … it’s just not enough.

Hats off to the people dedicated to reforestation, to conserving water, to alternative clean energy 365 days a year … they are the people who have read the statistics and understand all too well what’s happening to our planet with each passing year.

Forests are cleared for a new shopping mall, trash is taken to the dump. As the old adage goes, “what is out of sight, is out of mind.” Our carbon footprints are not light. We tread across the earth like Sasquatch on the prowl and feel good about ourselves if we remember to toss a plastic bottle in the recycle bin.

The volume of vegetative debris local biomass company American Property Experts sees daily is enough to incite wonderment. “If this many trees were cut down today, you wonder how many were planted in their place?” says Jason Thompson, owner of the company. APE recycles the debris brought in by excavation companies, tree removal specialists and after a storm, by nearly anyone with a pick-up truck.

“We turn the unwanted trees, branches, stumps into recycled mulch, we use dyes safe for pets and kids and we put back into the ecosystem what was forcibly removed,” Thompson explained. He is passionate about repurposing trees into recycled mulch.

A 2012 study by a Harvard University professor estimated there are presently, three trillion trees on the face of the earth. The study showed that we (humans) chop down about 15 billion of those each year. In all the ways measurable, it’s estimated that only two to three billion trees are planted each year.

“Even with mother nature on our side, the deficit is bound to catch up with us,” Thompson explains.

So, what can the average person do?

“Plant trees, in your yard, with a gardening club … it doesn’t matter. The world population is about 7.2 billion. If a third of us planted trees each year, we’d be getting somewhere,” said Bill Waggaman, APE’s VP of Business Development.

In the meantime, if you can’t plant a tree; you CAN grow a garden. Even a micro garden in a container is one step in the direction of sustainability.

Five keys for creating a sustainable garden:

1. Test Your Soil:
The first step in sustainable gardening is soil testing. You can purchase a soil testing kit inexpensively at your local nursery or online. You can find out if your soil is acidic or has a high alkaline content. With this information you will know whether you need to add fertilizer or compost in order to achieve the optimum pH levels for your plants. Most plants do well with a balanced level, however, some, like blueberries, like really acidic soil. If you are using manure, make sure it is antibiotic and hormone free as this can damage plants.

2. Companion Plants:
Reference what plants grow well together. For instance, if you plant basil near tomatoes, it produces better flavor in the tomatoes and has the added benefits of repelling flies and mosquitoes. You can find a complete companion planting guide at http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/companion-planting-guide-zmaz81mjzraw.aspx

3. Remember Flowers:
Adding edible flowers to your vegetable garden is a triple-edged delight. Not only do you end up with beautiful fragrant flowers, but there are added advantages such as, yarrow and sweet alyssum that attract good bugs that eat aphids. Flowers such as borage, nasturtiums, and pink jasmine will look beautiful when used to decorate a special cake. There is an edible flowers chart at: http://whatscookingamerica.net/EdibleFlowers/EdibleFlowersMain

4. Compost:
There are many types of compost. For outdoors, you can use food scraps, leaf clippings and other organic materials. But, don’t forget that indoor plants need compost, too. For more information on choosing the right compost for indoor plants you can go to: http://www.houseplantsguru.com/which-potting-compost-is-best-for-indoor-plants

Remember, American Property Experts now carries a compost soil amendment mixture.

5. Mulch:

Mulching your vegetable, or flower, garden is a very important step for several reasons. A few reasons to use mulch are; inhibits weed growth, holds in moisture, moderates soil temperatures, and can add nutrients to the soil that can result in bigger and better vegetables and flowers.

When you get ready to mulch your garden, bulk mulch is much better for the planet, as well as your budget. The bagged mulch that you buy from the local nurseries or department stores may seem cheaper, but in the long run, you spend a great deal for very little product and you are left to deal with non decomposable plastic bags!

Sustainability matters in more than gardening. Be sure to visit our blog page and find out about all the ways you can help the Earth through reuse, recycling and reducing!

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