8 tips on How to maintain an environmentally friendly urban garden that is safe for people and pets. This post is based on Ellen Sandbeck’s Book, Organic Housekeeping - a Solvigg favorite and library must have. For her entire gardening how-to… Purchade a digital copy of Ellen’s book or request a copy at your local library.
Compost Compost Compost! If you dont know what this is or how to get started - then you may want to forgo this post… Everyone can compost - its as easy as throwing your organic leftovers in the trash. We keep our composting bin in the freezer in a compostable bag until we’re ready to bring it to the outdoor bin. I’ll leave it to you to figure our the best way for your family. I have a fear of worms and there are still plenty of alternatives. If you google composting and start throwing your olive pits and old bread in its own trash - your on your way to pure soil escasty for your plants and trees.
Reduce Toxic Runoff and Create a mini-Wetland Use biodegradeable, chlorine and phosphate free products for outdoor cleaning projects. Minimize the amount of runoff by diverting water from storm-sewer systems and paved surfaces away from your property. To create an artificial wetland, choose an area that’s naturally lower, where water tends to collect (away from your home). Build a shallow raingarden that is 4” lower than the surrounding garden and use plants that tolerate “damp feet”, this type of design can absorb 30% more stormwater than a lawn. Your state’s Department of Wildlife or agriculture dept. will have information on suitable plants.
Set up Rain Barrels Select a barrel with a closed top that can accommodate a downspout, and a hose-adapted spigotn near the bottom. Garden suppliers carry ready-made products.
Re-surface areas with Permeable Pavement To reduce runoff by allowing water to percolate into the ground, lay a material of your choice over a bed of sand (perforated concrete blocks, paving stones, bricks, woodchips or gravel). Your new landscape will prevent frost-heaving in the winter, reduce heat build up in the summer, produce oxygen, reduce oxygen, and look beautiful.
Remediate Contaiminated Soil Garden soil that has been subjected to large doses of pesticides, old lead paint, and other contaniments is common in many cities. A solution is to permanently cover the soil with large amounts of composted manure or sewer sludge, and recover regularly. The Health Departments of many cities offer lead-abatement programs, free testing, grants, etc, to help homeowners cover the costs.
Mulch for moisture and ornament. Use nontoxic mulch to sit on top of the soil and prevent weed growth for at least one season. (pretty: bark, undyed/untreated woodchips, leaves, wine-grape pomace, rice hulls, licorice root, and pine needles) (homely: cardboard, old-natural fiber carpet)
Plant Trees Besides being one of the best way to remove carbon dioxide from the air you breath and prevent soil erosion, trees provide an excellent source of food, and shade. Large trees can change the climate in their immediate vicinity by reducing the “heat island” effect caused by buildings and pavement. Plant deciduous trees on the south side of a property. if you don’t know anything about trees, have someone who loves trees/hugs trees to select and plant for you. Make friends with an Arborist.
Say no to lawns! “There is no ecologically sound way to maintain a monocultural lawn.” unless you want Agent Orange to be part of your family - stay away from Lawns. A safer approach is to plant several different types and species of grasses, clovers, creeping groundcover, and low growing herbs.