Springtime in the garden. Ready to dig in? From clearing out the chemicals to picking native plants, growing green brings big benefits to people, pets and the planet. Get started today with these five tips from Metro Natural Gardening Specialist Carl Grimm:
Shake out the shed
Got pesticides? Round them up from the shed, and drop them off at one of Metro's household hazardous waste facilities or periodic collection events. Replacing toxic chemicals with compost, organic fertilizers, hand tools and other nonhazardous garden helpers makes for a safer yard and healthier waterways.
Prep the soil with compost
Time to harvest that soil-like stuff from the bottom of your compost bin. It's compost, indeed, so scoop or shovel it out, spread it and fork it into your planting beds. Only work the soil when it's a bit moist, however, (not dripping wet) to protect its structure and ensure drainage. If growing typical edibles, roses or annual flowers, consider adding a little organic fertilizer to the soil. Avoid overfertilizing, which can increase pest or disease problems.
Plant some native plants
Brilliant red-flowering currants, gorgeous Oregon grapes and delicate trilliums hint at the amazing array of great garden natives. Match them with the sun, soil and moisture conditions they like, and you'll gain a low-maintenance oasis that brings birds, bees and butterflies to the yard. Many nonnative plants get a thumbs up, too, but steer clear of invasive species such as ivy and butterfly bush.
Grow some organic food
Don't miss the simple satisfaction of picking tomatoes, strawberries or lettuce from your own yard. A wood-edged raised bed on a sunny spot can pump out the produce - with just a little love and care. Add a few Mediterranean herbs, berry bushes and bean plants to your border beds, and enjoy the colorful, edible bounty.
Add just a little water
Don't let stray sprinklers, damaged drip lines and forgotten timers blast your water bill. Check for leaks, adjust your timers to the weather and avoid overwatering to conserve water, save money and protect the health of your plants. Butterflies, bees and birds need water, too. Make a bug bath by filling a tray with pebbles or sand and water.
Pesky slugs? Leaf blight? Weeds? Time to take 'em on without toxic chemicals. Metro's newly updated Grow Smart, Grow Safe consumer guide ranks 600 pesticides, fertilizers and soil amendments, helping home gardeners and landscape professionals find products least hazardous to people, pets, wildlife and waterways. Want more green gardening ideas? Metro now offers more than 60 public seminars at home gardens, retail nurseries and demonstration gardens across the region. For the complete schedule or a free copy of Grow Smart, Grow Safe, call Metro Recycling Information at 503-234-3000 or download the PDF by clicking here,