Use Companion Planting
Protect your green garden from pesky bugs and animals without using chemicals! Companion planting is an eco-friendly way to protect your garden, by maximizing plant diversity. Planting veggies like broccoli or cabbage alone makes an easy target for insects, like the cabbage moth. But if you companion plant, you mask the scent of the favored food and confuse the pest. Try surrounding the bed with carrots and onions! Other plants that improve the health of their neighbors include garlic, chives, and pole beans. Set garlic around roses or apples to prevent scab, and plant pole beans around lettuce or spinach during summer’s heat, to provide shade! Sprinkling a little bit of cayenne pepper around your crops deters hungry rabbits from feasting on your veggies too!
Use Cover Crops
Cover crops are also known as “green manure”. At the end of a growing season, planting cover crops is an all-natural way to revitalize the soil, and help soil tilth and subsequent plant growth. Cover crops are planted when your garden is empty. Once the crops grow, you work them into the soil instead of eating them. As their leaves, stems and roots begin to decompose, they provide 100% organic matter, which serves as food for a host of soil-dwelling creatures that reprocess those nutrients into a plant-friendly food source for your garden plants. For examples of cover crops, check out this helpful cover crop chart.
Composting is another eco-safe fertilizer. Composting turns biodegradable yard and kitchen wastes into a nutrient-rich, soil-like substances through a combination of biological and chemical processes. Sheet composting is an easy do-it-yourself way to compost in an idle garden bed or area. Just spread your kitchen wastes in a 2- to 4-inch layer, cover with soil, and leave to decompose between growing seasons.
Try Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is the practice of replacing the type of plant grown in a certain area of your garden, with a plant belonging to a different family. This rotation helps keep soil healthy, ward off pests and reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases. Ideally crops are rotated on a two- or three-year schedule. You can also rotate crops based on their nutrient needs. Heavy feeders like corn or squash can be followed up by a light feeder such as carrots. Legumes such as beans or peas are light feeders that add nitrogen back to the soil. Mixing up your garden keeps it healthy and nutrition-rich!