Green Gardens - in more sense than one

So you've got a green thumb and your veggies are tasty, your flowers are stunning. How about turning your garden into a "green" garden - one that contributes to the ecology and health of us all as well?

The World Wildlife Federation has some suggestions for you. Taylor Bicketts, director of the WWF conservation program, says, "Green gardening not only beautifies your home, but also provides habitat for native plants and animals."

Maybe the idea of welcoming garden predators like squirrels or deer to dine in your garden doesn't appeal to you, but here are some WWF ideas that will make your garden not only healthier, but improve the health of us all:

Plant an ecologically friendly plot with natural predators and no pesticides

Have a bucket under your eaves' rainspout. Collect rainwater for watering flowers. They'll appreciate the taste of untreated water.

Never uproot and collect wild plants or wildflowers on hikes and bring them home. They probably won't grow in your garden anyhow, and you can cause erosion at the empty spot.

Leave a patch of your garden bare and see what happens. Yes, some weeds will appear, but then so will some native plants and flowers. Pluck the weeds; enjoy the flowers.

Buy your bulbs and seeds from cultivar stocks only. Ask the garden shop what is best for Carson City area.

Plant local species of trees. Don't go for far-out trees that won't survive here. (The Greenhouse Garden Center has a free pamphlet discussing which trees thrive here, which are for shade and which are decorative.)

Start planting species that are pollinator-friendly to attract butterflies and moths to your garden and supply them with food. The butterfly bush with its lovely blue blossoms is good example of this. It comes back yearly after severe pruning.

Stop using chemical pesticides to get rid of bugs. There are natural products out there that do the job with little harm to the environment. Use parasites' natural predators like ladybugs to do away with pests. (OK, so it's hard to get ladybugs to hang around. But give 'em a try anyhow.)

If critters such as squirrels are dining on your plants, buy a trap. Catch the critters, then (depending on your feelings toward the death of wild animals) take them to a remote site and free them.

When selecting seeds or plants, go for those that are naturally resistant to local pests and diseases. Your garden shop can steer you the right way.

Use organic compost and mulch to improve soil health and reduce the requirement to get out the bug spray and use fertilizers. Mulch around plants such as tomatoes helps keep the plant watered by retaining moisture.

Don't use peat in your garden. Peat is taken from old bog areas, destroying valuable wildlife sanctuaries. Try making compost from grass clippings and leftover vegetables from the kitchen.

Look up plants that fend off insects all alone. You can mix them with herbs, basil, chives, marigolds, mint and chrysanthemums in with other crops to repel pests.

Toss that leaf blower and get out the rake. Americans used rakes long before leaf blowers came along and were healthier for it. Leaf blowers just consume gasoline or electricity and make an annoying racket.

Don't dispose of antifreeze, oil, paint or other chemicals in storm drains. These are toxic, so take them to the local dump.

Pass on buying lawn furniture made of tropical hardwood such as mahogany unless it has a Forest Stewardship Council label.


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