Monday, January 17, 2011

Rules to break in the garden from Washington Gardener Magazine

I know January is the month to set new rules for ourselves, but Kathy Jentz, Editor and Publisher of Washington Gardener Magazine, had some great rules to break in the garden. Read her full newsletter for more great local gardening information, including her suggestion for rules to follow:

5 Old Rules to Break, by Kathy Jentz

1) Turf is King – The green suburban lawn is no longer the ideal or the goal. Turfgrass is one of the most wasteful of our natural resources, not to mention high time-consuming to maintain by the owner. Today’s gardeners are looking at other groundcover choices including expanding shrub borders, installing edible beds, and hardscaping pathways.

2) Spray Away – Chemicals used to be the answer to all of your garden’s ills, but along with killing grubs, they were also taking a toll on your own health and that of the local environment. The key words today are diagnosis first, then exploration of chemical alternatives second. Living with some imperfection is very 21st Century.

3) Dig and Double Dig – Just a few years ago, we were all urged to dig in that compost and fertilizer to really work it in. Researchers have shown that we are doing far more damage to the soil’s structure than any benefit. In addition, we are turning up new weed seeds that would otherwise be dormant. Stop digging and start layering on organic materials to decompose and work their own way.

4) Fertilize Everything – Fertilizer spreaders are joining the VCR and transistor radio in scrap heaps. Most fertilizer applied on and around plants washes away and into our local streams. Today the word is to feed the soil, not the plants. Healthy soil promotes strong growth. Add your own homemade compost and organic mulch to your beds to provide nutrients.

5) Water Copiously – The oscillating sprinkler is another dinosaur headed for the junkyard. Good gardeners know to group their plants by their watering needs and to use drip irrigation, not overhead sprinklers or hoses.

Washington Gardener magazine is the only gardening magazine published specifically for the local metro area — zones 6-7 — Washington DC and its suburbs.
For more information, visit their blog.

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