Resolve to make your garden greener in 2011

It’s resolution time with a new year just around the corner.

This healthy basil plant is basking in a pot on a sunny

It’s resolution time with a new year just around the corner.

And I say to heck with promises of being on top of the housework and laundry. I always focus on the changes I want to make in my garden. A question of priorities. And when it comes to greening the garden, it should be a priority.

As gardeners, we are really on the front line of experiencing climate change. Just working in the soil, growing our food and tending to our plants exposes us to the vulgarities of our local weather patterns.

So what can we do to help our little patch of the planet? Here are a few tips to make your garden a “greener” space.

1. Go organic. With our new pesticide bylaws, this one is now mandatory. Many of the chemical fertilizers and insect control products contain ingredients that are especially harmful to the environment. Creeks and streams are also impacted through these chemicals leaching into the groundwater.

2. Compost. By composting uncooked food scraps, leaves and lawn clippings, you are reducing your waste and creating a nutrient-rich fertilizer for the garden. Applying compost promotes healthy plant growth that results in reduced attacks from insect pests. Making your own compost also reduces your need to truck in organic fertilizer.

3. Collect rainwater. This is a simple way to reuse rainwater. It is amazing how much water can be collected from a roof. Downspouts are easily rerouted into rain barrels or other suitable containers, allowing you access to a water source during drier periods.

4. Utilize native and drought-tolerant plants. Indigenous plants are already adapted to local conditions and well-positioned to handle weather fluctuations. They are easy to grow and maintain, generally requiring less water and fertilizing than ornamental hybrid varieties. Drought-tolerant plants are also useful in the landscape design with their acceptance of drier conditions.

5. Landscape wisely. Think about your garden layout, the hardscape elements and the materials you use. Hardscaping is essential for the overall effect of the garden and the materials must be chosen with care.

Cedar is preferred over pressure-treated lumber. Paths should be constructed of porous elements to allow rain to soak into the ground. Likewise, concrete and paved areas should be kept to a minimum to reduce water run-off. Design garden beds and install plants to suit the contour of the property and the existing elements, such as trees.

6. Water efficiently. Getting water directly to your plants cuts down on the amount needed to keep them healthy and happy. It also means you are not watering unnecessary parts of the landscape such as sidewalks or driveway.

7. Mulch. Applying compost, leaves, seaweed, or bark mulch around your plants reduces evaporation, resulting in the need to water less frequently.

8. Grow your own food. What could be fresher? Think of the calories you burn when you walk into the garden for the dinner ingredients instead of the harmful carbon you emit if you were to drive to the store.

9. Recycle. Instead of tossing those plastic pots, yogurt containers or what-have-you into the garbage or recycle bins, consider re-using them to start next year’s vegetable and flower seeds and grow on the seedlings.

10. Embrace green practices. Who needs a gym when you can have a workout in the garden? A push-mower is great for the waistline over the emissions from a gas-powered one. Biceps are ensured using hand clippers over electric hedge trimmers. Solar lights are every bit as brilliant as electric plug-ins.

11. Attract beneficial insects. These guys are very necessary for pollinating plants and keeping pests at bay, so you want to attract a healthy population. Without them, you inherit the job.

12. Attract birds. Drawing birds into your garden ensures help in keeping garden pests under control.

It may seem like miniscule amounts of carbon emissions when you compare your garden to a whole country, but change begins at home. Never underestimate the little guy.

May your garden flourish in 2011!

Leslie Cox co-owns Growing Concern Cottage Garden in Black Creek. Her column appears every second Friday.

Just Posted

Film documents transformation of snowboarders, surfers

Former professional athletes forged deep ties with communities

Comox Valley Santa’s Workshop in need of bicycles for youngsters, gifts for teens

Santa’s Workshop, at 464 Puntledge Road (formerly the Red Cross building), is… Continue reading

Transitioning back into the world

Courtenay man had been living outdoors before starting Sally Ann program

A cuddle and a coffee: Six Island towns named among Canada’s most cozy

Sidney, Campbell River, Courtenay, Parksville, Tofino and Ucluelet crack Expedia’s top 40

Saving salmon: B.C. business man believes hatcheries can help bring back the fish

Tony Allard worked with a central coast First Nation to enhance salmon stocks

High-end B.C. house prices dropping, but no relief at lower levels

But experts say home ownership remains out of reach for many for middle- and lower-income families

Mid Island Farmers Institute discusses fleece at November meeting

Are you a lover of wool and local fibre? Interested in raising… Continue reading

Comox Valley Nature invites the public to learn about nature photography

Comox Valley Nature is hosting a public lecture on photography. Join Terry… Continue reading

Worker killed in collision at B.C. coal mine

Vehicle collision occurred at approximately 10:45 a.m. this morning

B.C. asking for tips on ‘dirty money’ in horse racing, real estate, luxury cars

Action follows a Peter German report on money laundering in B.C. casinos

Canadian dead more than a week after plane crash in Guyana: Global Affairs

Global Affairs said it couldn’t provide further details on the identity of the Canadian citizen

Children between 6 and 9 eligible for $1,200 RESP grant from province

BC Ministry of Education is reminding residents to apply before the deadline

Victoria spent $30,000 to remove John A. Macdonald statue

Contentious decision sparked controversy, apology from mayor

Most Read