Your garden’s best protection is your presence in it. Taking 5 or 10 minutes per day to check out what’s going on is all you need to nip any problem in the bud, before it get’s hard to handle. Here are 5 ways to get your gardening patrol on.
1. Protecting from the cold. When you are gardening in the cooler parts of the growing season, inclement weather can slow germination and plant growth. Placing a floating row cover on your garden will make a nice cozy microclimate 3 or 4 degrees warmer than the surrounding area. In the early spring, and late fall your tender little veggies will appreciate the extra help.
2. Keeping the weeds out. You need to keep the weeds out of your garden so that they don’t compete with your vegetables for precious water, sun and nutrients. And of course, your garden looks much nicer weed free! Regular weeding should do the trick, but Cocoa mulch keeps your soil weed free and helps to retain moisture. Added bonus – since it’s made from the shells of cocoa beans, your garden smells like chocolate every time it rains.
3. Animals. In the city, we may not have the wide array of animals out in the countryside, but there are certainly a variety of animals you’ll want to keep out of your garden. Groundhogs, squirrels and racoons not to mention cats and dogs can all wreak havoc in a vegetable garden. The trick is to find a balance between keeping animals out, and letting the gardener in. The best is a discrete fence around your raised bed. You need to get the fence up before you plant anything in the garden so the animals don’t know that there are goodies waiting on the other side.
4. Keep those pesky pests off your leaves. Slugs, aphids, cucumber beetles and cabbage moths are the toughest pests to deal with in the city vegetable garden. In the early spring, all you really need to worry about is getting a handle on the slugs before their population explodes. Try diatomaceous earth sprinkled on the surface of the soil, or beer traps dug into the soil. Hand picking is really the best method. Go find those suckers under rocks or other hidey-holes they might have around the garden.
5. Chemicals in the tap water. Keeping a healthy soil teeming with microbial life is essential to growing healthy nutritious plants. The chlorine in your tap water kills bacteria – good and bad. To encourage a healthy soil, de-chlorinate your water with a de-chlorinator. Fortunately, chlorine evaporates very quickly, so you can also get rid of the chlorine in your water by letting your watering can sit for 24 hours before using it to water your garden.
Cheers to a flourishing backyard ready to be eaten (by you of course).