Spring is just around the corner, peeking out from behind those winter clouds more and more each week. Soon the birds will return, the bees will start buzzing, and budding trees and plants will be around every corner. Springtime in Tennessee is one of SOCKET’s favorite things about this state. With the return of nice weather comes the return of the faithful Tennessee gardener. The planning process begins with imagination; the contemplative stare of a gardener over their currently bare backyard plot is unmistakable. Whether they are accessing mental notes of what did and did not work last year or combing through online articles for tips and ideas on what to try next , the gardening season starts now for the local agriculturalist of any experience level.
Planting season is an exciting time in Tennessee. It’s a time to challenge yourself and try new methods alongside your tried and true routine. This year let SOCKET provide you with ways to create a sustainable garden that will maintain the beauty and integrity of your backyard garden and our beautifully diverse Tennessee environment.
First, SOCKET believes in the importance of planting native. This isn’t to say that your entire garden and landscape has to be native to Tennessee, but adding native plants to your plans has a tremendous, positive effect on your backyard ecosystem. Native plants are fine tuned to thrive in and support their native environment. Native plants are pretty effortless to maintain and also provide additional food and shelter for local birds and insects. By increasing the biodiversity of your backyard, you are promoting the health of your garden by attracting more pollinators. There are several resources online to discover the native plants that are best suited for your backyard based on light, rainfall, and preference. Explore your options today and add native plants to your strategy for a thriving garden.
Second, let’s discuss pesticides. SOCKET knows how easy it is to swing by a home improvement store and grab a bottle of pesticide. It’s convenient and effective to spray some bug poison onto your infected plant and be done with it, but it’s the unintended effects that you should consider before misting your yard and garden with wholesale poison. While using these products may achieve the desired effect of pestlest plants, there is more here than meets the eye. In your mind, you may just be killing aphids, caterpillars, or other common garden pest but in actuality you can affect the health of good bugs and pollinators that are so important to the growing season. This poison you’re spraying washes into your soil when the rain falls and slowly leeches its way into the water table which leads to our streams, rivers, and lakes and negatively affects these already sensitive ecosystems. Explore the resources that are available from the experienced gardeners on various natural pest control methods that have worked for them. It may take some experimenting to find the best fit for the needs of your garden, but a greener, more sustainable growing space is something that will benefit both you and the ecosystem. SOCKET understands that sometimes convenience outweighs responsible practices but if nothing else, SOCKET encourages gardeners to, at the very least, research their pesticide choices and explore more environmentally friendly options.
The third SOCKET topic is rain barrels. Rain barrels are a great addition to any garden. Why let this springs rainwater go to waste when you can collect it and use it during dryer periods in the season, all while saving money on your water bill?! Rain barrels collect and store rainwater in an above ground storage container as it drains from your roof through your gutter system. The utilization of this natural resource provides a sustainable alternative to the use of our treated water supply. There are companies that will come to your house and install various rain collecting systems or you can undertake a DIY projects by making and installing one yourself! Whichever way you choose, SOCKET wants to motivate you to give this greener method a try!
Another way to have a more successful and sustainable garden this year is to start composting. Composting is one of the most beneficial backyard practices that you could initiate, not only does it create less waste to be sent to landfills but it also nourishes your garden to help it succeed. The EPA has stated that, “Food scraps and yard waste currently make up 20 to 30 percent of what we throw away, and should be composted instead.” As SOCKET mentioned, composting also has significant benefits for your garden. Adding compost to your garden will enrich the soil by adding moisture and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and fungi. Why would you want bacteria and fungi in your garden? These break down organic matter and create humus, which is extremely nutrient-rich and helps retain moisture in your soil. If these reasons weren’t enough to sway you, composting also lowers your gardens susceptibility of catching diseases and pests. There are many resources online that will help you better understand composting and guide you through the process of starting today!
Next, SOCKET suggests to use natural products! Start by using manure rather than fertilizer to naturally nourish your garden. There are online sites that connect you with local farmers to purchase manure .Another natural product that your garden will love is seaweed. Seaweed has nutrients that plants thrive on. If you don’t live in an area where seaweed is easily accessible, there are products in stores and online that sell seaweed based garden products. For a whimsical design, shave and write on sticks to label plant beds or use branches and rocks to create a natural fence. The possibilities are right in your back yard if you just use creative thinking!
Lastly, let’s fast-forward to the end of the season. Hopefully your garden was high yield thanks to the sustainability tips you picked up here. You’re watching your garden slowly wither away until next year, but it has one more gift for you before it’s turned into compost- seeds! Before your plants dry out they’re going to produce one more round of seeds- harvest these! Why let a successful crop go to waste?!? Harvest what seeds you can from your flowers, peas, tomatoes, etc., and store them somewhere dry and cold until you’re ready to use them next year! You’ll already know the success rate of these seeds from the previous year’s outcome.
Gardening is a time to be in touch with nature. It gives you the ability to create a personal space that brings you joy and nourishes your body and soul. Try these sustainable gardening tips to keep the experience as natural as possible. These eco-friendly methods will have benefits that are both seen and unseen.