So, I'm new to this whole gardening thing. I'm the type who has a hard time keeping a cactus alive; so growing a plant? An entire garden? And then keeping it all ALIVE? It's always seemed next to impossible to me.
But this year, I decided to give gardening another go. I started with an indoor starter kit and waited for the seeds to sprout. Then, I transferred the fledgling plants to planter boxes which hang from the railing outside my front door. When those started to take off, I hesitantly replanted them again in the main gardening box in my front yard. In shocking news, my cilantro and mint are flourishing. My peppers have sprouted and I've already harvested a few rounds of basil. My sugar-snap peas and lettuce died, but I'll take green-thumb victories whenever I can.
So far, I can count this gardening season as my first and only success, and I'm determined to keep it going. In my research, I ran across a few interesting tips. These may seem elementary to all those with a green thumb, but I found them fascinating. If you're a novice gardener like me, read on for some tips on how to help your garden grow the organic way.
1. Use ladybugs as pest control: So far, I have not had any issues with little pests or bugs eating away at my plants, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time. The idea of using pesticides in my garden makes me uncomfortable, so I was happy to read about ladybugs as an organic pest control option. Ladybugs, or ladybird beetles, work by feasting on the aphids and other small insect pests. If you want to attract them naturally, try planting fennel; ladybugs will be attracted to the sweet aroma and taste of its flowers. I'm almost certain wearing these cute ladybug charms wouldn't hurt the cause, either. If you want to go a more foolproof route, you can purchase ladybugs in bulk from commercial vendors who wild harvest them in the winter and spring months. The bugs will continue to hibernate in your refrigerator until it's time to release them into the garden. It's best to release them at night when they are cool and less active; give your garden a light misting first to encourage the bugs to settle in for the night. Also, give them something to stay for by lightly spraying a mixture of sugar and yeast on your plants or apply as a paste to wooden stakes.
2. Add coffee grounds to soil: As a multiple-pot-per-day coffee drinker, I was happy to learn the grounds that fuel my addiction can also help fertilize my garden. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen, an element all plants need. After making your morning pot of coffee (this grind-and-brew maker from Cuisinart would do the trick), place cooled grounds by the tablespoon around each plant and gently work them into the soil. Coffee grounds, including the paper filter, can also be composted using grass clippings, dry leaves, and egg shells (which brings me to my next gardening tip):
3. Try eggshells as fertilizer: Plants need calcium to flourish, and eggshells are an excellent source of the nutrient. After eating your morning egg out of this delightful egg cup (embossed with pollenating bees, of course), use the discarded shell to fertilize your garden. There are many ways to use shells as a fertilizer: Grind them down to a powder and sprinkle over your crops, place large pieces of shell directly on top of the soil, or steep eggshells in water and use the nutrient-rich "eggshell tea" to water your plants.
4. Water plants with chamomile or cooking water: The water you use to cook pasta or boil vegetables or potatoes is packed with leftover vitamins and nutrients. Instead of dumping the water in the pot down the drain, allow it to cool and use it to feed your plants. And don't let all your hard work go to waste! About once a week, water your plants with cooled chamomile tea to ward off fungal and bacterial infections in your garden. Did you plant a garden this year? If you have a green thumb, do you have any other organic gardening tips you'd like to share?
Did you plant a garden this year? If you have a green thumb, do you have any other organic gardening tips you'd like to share?
Posted by Jen Gustavson