“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” was famously said by Audrey Hepburn. But what can you do right now for a better garden tomorrow? All too often, it can be easy to focus all of your gardening hopes on what you do outdoors.
Did you know that reducing waste, reusing, and repurposing are practices that can help with your growing efforts? Today, I’d like to share some simple things you can do in your everyday to enrich your garden and help it to flourish.
For Soil Enrichment:
Saving and separating things that typically get tossed away can be a huge help to your soil condition. Some simple recycling steps can enrich your soil and grow heartier, healthier plants.
A simple method for turning kitchen scraps into garden gold is with a simple composter. I use a large, lidded, rubberized tub that sits outside of my kitchen door.
In addition to the dry leaves I sweep from my porch, I throw in potato peels, scraps from herb and vegetable chopping, corn cobs, dropped house plant leaves, et cetera. I flip it occasionally upside down or side to side to mix everything well.
Compost is bursting with beneficial microorganisms for your growing plants.
Keep egg shells separate from your other compost (I reuse deli containers to hold them). Rinse and crush them to add calcium to support plants that often need it, like tomatoes.
Used coffee grounds have calcium, potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus content.
Because coffee grounds acidify soil, they can be useful for acid-loving plants, or can be mixed in with the rest of your compost.
Chopped banana peels can be buried in your soil when planting tomatoes or peppers. The potash and phosphorous content in the peels will enrich the soil and strengthen your plants.
Wood ash has high alkaline content, which makes it great for neutralizing acidic soil. If your growing beds have acidic pH, use cooled fireplace ash to balance.
Used tea leaves, sprinkled liberally at your plants’ bases, can give the same boost as a good fertilizer. Nitrogen, potash, and calcium will enrich the soil and lead to healthier plants.
Grass clippings can be used in two ways. If your lawn is free of weeds, use your grass clippings directly over beds as a mulch to prevent moisture loss and inhibit weed growth. If your clippings contain weed content, add them to your compost. The heat from a well-maintained compost will kill any weed seeds.
For seed starting:
You can save many common household items to repurpose as seed trays, microgreen and sprout trays, and even as mini greenhouses. Plastic deli containers, such as croissant boxes and rotisserie chicken containers are excellent for this purpose, as are egg cartons, yogurt cups, and margarine tubs.
For the Garden:
- Popsicle sticks make excellent garden markers.
- Wire dry cleaner coat hangers can be used as garden stakes
- Plastic bottles can be cut to make vertical garden containers
- Glass wine bottles make excellent auto-waterers for container plants
- Rain water collection is always a great way to conserve water. You can also retain and cool water used to steam or boil vegetables to water your plants. Nutrients lost in cooking can go back into your vegetable beds!
- An old, leaky hose can be made into a soaker for watering your garden.
Some further ways to plan for tomorrow’s garden:
The ‘Plan for later’ growing method
Choose vegetables that can be preserved, stored, or frozen. By selecting vegetables that can be easily canned, pickled, or frozen, you stretch resources and can plan to eat produce from your garden throughout the year.
Cool-weather vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash can be easily stored. Tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, corn, peas, and beets can be canned or frozen. Okra, green beans, asparagus, beets, and cucumbers can be pickled.
The Succession planting method
Plant your vegetables to produce in stages. Rather than planting an entire crop of seeds at once, plant them in stages over the course of several weeks. This enables you to harvest time and again. Succession planting allows a constant harvest in your garden, reducing the chance of produce waste.
Start a garden savings plan
If your goal is to buy or expand your dream greenhouse, add irrigation to your space, try an aquaponic growing system, or any other long term growing goal, start a garden savings plan! As you harvest more food from your growing space, a portion of your food budget savings can be set aside to help attain long term goals.