16 December 2010

Green thumb guide: 12 cool ways to sow eco-savings (part two)

7) Support Top-Heavy Plants With Homemade Slings

Training plants to use a trellis will save valuable real estate in your garden but oftentimes, they’ll still require a little extra support once fruit like melons and veggies such as squash begin to develop. This can be achieved without a trip to the home improvement store by creating DIY slings using old t-shirts, torn nylon stockings and, yes, even bras that have seen better days!

8) Fertilize Your Garden With DIY Compost Tea

If you add 1 part of your own homespun garden gold to 5 parts of harvested rainwater, you’ll send your green thumb into sustainable overdrive, however, tap water will work just as well (as long as you allow it to sit 24 hours so any chlorine dissipates). Mix your composty concoction several times daily for up to one week in order to draw the nutrients out effectively and then strain the liquid portion through a piece of recycled nylon stocking or cheesecloth, plunking the solid material that remains right back into your compost pile. Voila, what you’ll end up with is a raw tea that must be diluted in a final step of 1 part tea to 10 parts water. This liquid nutrient soup will make your plants healthy and happy…just be sure to spray it on your plants every two weeks and only in the early morning or late evening so you don’t run the risk of burning any leaves.

9) Save Water By Creating a Home Grown Irrigation System

In the heat of the summer, the last thing that you want to do is water your garden during prime sunshine hours because precious moisture will burn foliage and ultimately evaporate in record time. A more strategic approach would be to make the most of a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses, but what if it’s entirely cost prohibitive? No worries…if you have lots of old plastic water bottles and gallon milk containers wallowing away in your recycling bin, then you have the raw ingredients for a pretty easy and very effective homemade watering system that will ensure that roots receive just the right dose of liquid refreshment. Not only will you preserve water and liberate yourself from the mind-numbing ritual of manually soaking plants before or after work you’ll also encourage the plants in your garden to develop deep, healthy root systems.

10) Create Protective Plant Borders Using Repurposed Materials

Pre-manufactured borders purchased at home improvement stores are not only costly but most often made of plastic or chemically treated materials. If you’d like to achieve the same effect using more natural (aka FREE) alternatives, then consider bending flexible branches to create protective barriers (anchoring both sides deeply into the ground), repurpose concrete blocks and bricks, use terracotta pot shards or dip into your recyclable bin to create equally attractive borders using glass wine/beverage bottles. Resourceful gardeners also rave about the benefits of using old tires, plastic water bottles or even hopelessly dilapidated furniture, proving that virtually nothing is off limits when you apply just the right dose of creativity.

11) Kill Two Birds With One Stone – Rinse Your Veggies While Watering Your Crops

Once you decide what veggies you’ll be consuming for your next meal, pluck them off the stem, drag your garden hose over and rinse your selections directly over still-growing, thirsty crops. Why waste all that good water when there are plenty of plants more than eager to slurp up whatever moisture they can get (especially in during the hot summer months)!

12) Trade The Fruits of Your Labors With Equally Green Thumbed Neighbors

To reap the greatest benefits from all of your hard work and ensure that any excess you grow will always find a good home, arrange a weekly garden swap club with friends, neighbors and work colleagues. This is a fantastic opportunity for everyone in your swapping circle to enjoy an increased range of veggie varieties without feeling the budgetary pinch…plus you can make it a far more festive affair by turning it into a potluck dinner. Another option is to join Veggie Trader and use their online database to locate people in your area who are interested in trading/selling/buying garden treasures – it beats pounding the pavement any day!

Don't forget to check out 'part one' of this guide here!

Elizah Leigh | @elizahleigh
Elizah Leigh's master's degree in education combined with her passion for the written word and deep-seated interest in environmental issues has proven to be the ideal trifecta for her present status as a green journalist. Currently commissioned to write a reference book on vegetarianism, Elizah hopes to inspire people through her words. Follow Elizah on Facebook.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/downingstreet