Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
June, 2005
Regional Report

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This commercial landscape utilizes native plants to blend with the natural surroundings. It provides home and habitat to wildlife and is beautiful as well.

Sustainable Gardening

Earth = Home. This equation seems simple, but many people don't quite get it. The fact that the planet that supports us is in jeopardy from our own carelessness is another thing that many people don't understand. So many things in life are out of our control, but we can make a difference in our own environment. The new motto is "Act local, think global."

Making a small difference in your own world is easy. Using less water, cutting back on chemicals, creating habitat for wildlife, and using organic methods of gardening are all things that can make a real difference.

Small Effort With Big Payoffs
By planting things that are adapted to our climate, you will use less water. Ceonothus and fremontedendron are both beautiful, hardy, and use very little H2o.

Make your garden friendly to wildlife. Habitat in the wild is disappearing at an alarming rate. Some of the most beautiful gardens are those that are bursting with wildlife. Provide shelter by leaving a weedy thicket in a forgotten corner of your garden for birds to hide in. You will be amazed at how your insect population will decrease. Another thing you can do is put out a bird bath. Everybody is grateful for a little drink now and then, even dragonflies and butterflies.

Compost your garden debris instead of having it hauled off to the dump. Compost is the very best thing for your garden soil, and besides, the dumps are filling up faster than ever. You'll get some regular exercise by turning the pile, and you will create the most excellent product ever invented for your efforts.

Lose your lawn. I can't emphasize this strongly enough. Lawns are greedy for water and chemicals and are passe in the landscape industry. Create a meadow in your front yard instead that will invite butterflies and bees to visit, use less water, and look better than any lawn in the neighborhood. If you absolutely have to have a lawn, at least make it a small one, surrounded by perennial beds and shrubs.

Try using organic remedies for your common pest problems. If you have always used Malathion to control aphids on roses, try using soapy water instead. You might be surprised at the results. The roses will like it better, that I can guarantee.

Don't plant monocultures. Plant your vegetable garden helter skelter, not in rows, and you will confuse the insect pests waiting to dine on your labor. Besides, it's fun to search for hidden cucumbers. Plant corn seed in small pockets throughout your ornamentals. You will get the same amount of corn, but you will make life very difficult for the corn ear worms who are looking for that big field of corn. Tomatoes will grow happily among your annual flowers. Your neighbors will think you have gone around the bend, but at least it will give them something to talk about. Mix and match is the secret to foiling the insect population.

As the human population grows larger, the earth bears the burden. Make life a little easier on the old girl by "thinking small, acting large."

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