Go Organic to Shrink Your Gardening Budget

March 22, 2009

This article to help you save money by applying organic gardening techniques was written by Fern Marshall Bradley, Co-Editor of The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Planning – Selection – Propagation – and Organic Solutions…

Saving the Earth and protecting children and pets from dangerous chemicals are the reasons most gardeners cite for giving up pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, but guess what? Making the switch to organic gardening methods will save you money too! Here are six examples of how going organic will put money back in your pocket. Think of them as money management tips!

Plant Veggies, Spend Less on Doctor Bills

garden-produceA recent article by a Texas research biochemist summarizes some bad news: many scientific studies show that the vitamin content of fresh fruits and vegetables is on the decline. That’s alarming, because fresh produce should be an important source of vitamins and minerals in our diets — without them, we’re more vulnerable to getting sick.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to protect your health and reduce what you spend on costly doctor visits, cold and flu medications, and vitamin pills: plant some vegetables. Fresh-picked home garden produce is brimming with nutrition, and recent studies confirm that organically grown produce can be even richer in nutrients than conventionally grown fruits and veggies.

Fire Your Lawn Care Service

How much do you pay for a lawn care company to treat your lawn? Chances are it’s way too much. So ditch the lawn service and hire a local teen to mow for you instead.

To encourage a healthy lawn the organic way, have your hired help set the mower high — at least 3 inches high. That way, your lawn grass naturally shades out weeds (no more herbicides needed).  Be sure your helper uses a mulching mower that returns grass clippings — which contain valuable nitrogen — to the lawn (no more bagged fertilizer needed).

Once a year, have your helper spread good-quality compost too, about 1/4 inch thick. The compost will melt into the lawn almost immediately, adding a wide range of nutrients as well as beneficial microbes that help prevent lawn diseases.

Fight Pests with Flowers Instead of Pesticides

marigolds-in-the-vegetable-gardenMore than 90 percent of the insects in your yard and garden are your friends, not your foes. Ladybugs, lacewings, and even many kinds of flies and tiny wasps are an important natural pest control force.

Their larvae (the immature stages of the insects) gobble up aphids and other pests, or parasitize the caterpillars that would like to turn the foliage of your flowers and veggies into a holey mess. One easy way to attract these good-guy insects to your yard organically is to plant a garden of perennials and herbs with tiny flowers, because the adult beneficial insects eat pollen, not bugs.

Yarrow, purple coneflowers, daisies, tansy, cosmos, marigolds, and zinnias are great plants to start with, and you’ll love how they look growing in sunny spots all around your yard. Buying a few packets of annual seeds and several potted perennials is much cheaper — and much more fun — than buying pesticides and a sprayer!

Tomorrow Fern will share a few additional techniques that the home gardener can use to save dollars by going organic in and around their backyard garden.

Author Bio: Fern Marshall Bradley, co-editor with Trevor Cole of The All-New Illustrated Guide to Gardening: Now All Organic!, is a writer and editor whose favorite topics are gardening and sustainable living.

A co-author of Reader’s Digest’s Vegetable Gardening, she also conceived and edited The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control, and The Experts Book of Garden Hints, among others. Bradley is a former gardening books editor for Rodale.

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  • I employ all of these techniques here at Chiot’s Run. There are also a number of great healthy alternatives. Our gardens are like our bodies, if you keep it strong & healthy to begin with you don’t need medicines & treatment.

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  • prairiesun

    I see you are in PA. I recently read an autobiography by Flo Menninger from the 1800’s. She describes the many, many nuts and plants that they grew or harvested from their PA area, but, when they moved to Kansas where I live, things were not so easy. Still, I am amazed that early Kansans grew lots of everything in their gardens in native sod and today it is often a struggle to get things to grow well,and not be eaten by the squash bugs or have that old time flavor. When they first came to Kansas, they had no plow yet, so, dug little holes in the sod, dropped watermelon, squash and other melon seeds in them and hoped for the best. To their surprise, they had a bumper crop of everything without doing anything more to them. I have a garden in the midst of burmuda grass which I constantly fight to keep out of the garden and although I have had fabulous gardens with unbelievable success other places in this area, I have had only minimal success in this garden over an 11 year period. Could it be the burmuda draining nutrients? I have a raised bed, and lots of organic material worked in, etc. Tomatoes don’t taste like they used to and cucs and zucchini are destroyed by squash bugs every year. I do have a garden covered with short, Lambs quarters plants, though!

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