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Extending sustainability to gardens


Extending sustainability to gardens
Composting is a good way to create a homemade soil conditioner to use in the garden and landscape.

Many of the practices associated with sustainability, such as recycling, can be extended into the garden.


            1.  Composting is a way to help reduce organic waste that goes to the landfill and helps feed gardens. These organic materials, which include grass clippings, leaves and other yard wastes, account for about 30% of trash that goes to the landfill. Compost creates the perfect conditioner to help soil maintain proper moisture content. It also reduces soil compaction, increases the presence of earthworms and beneficial microorganisms, and provides a slow release of nutrients into the soil.  Creating a compost pile is simple, but it does require some patience and know-how. Usable compost can take from 6 months to 2 years to generate depending on several factors. Pile placement and size is important to properly break down the contents.


            2.  Soil testing is an important step before planting. Soil test results provide recommendations for fertilizer and lime. Lime helps increase soil pH.  While samples can be taken any time, it is best to send in soil samples 2 to 3 months before planting.  Soil test results help gardeners apply accurate fertilizer amounts only when needed. The results are customized to specific plants and give gardeners target dates for application.           


3.  Installing rain barrels.  These vessels capture rainwater that can be used to water garden plants instead of using groundwater. They can be made from recycled materials or purchased. When choosing or making a rain barrel be sure to follow certain guidelines to ensure the water is clean.

 

4. Biodegradable peat pots. These pots can be planted directly into the ground when it is time to transfer seedlings to the garden.


5.  Nonplastic, biodegradable landscape fabric. This is available commercially. Newspapers can also be used as a weed barrier.


6.  Electric-powered lawn care equipment. Tools, such as mowers, weed eaters and leaf blowers, are more energy efficient, require less maintenance and produce less greenhouse gas emissions compared to gas-powered equipment.


             For more information, contact Dr. Jeff Wilson, 662-566-8019 or jeff.wilson@msstate.edu; Dr. Keri Jones, 662-325-3313 or kkd1@msstate.edu; Dr. Sherry Surrette, 601-857-2284 or s.surrette@msstate.edu


EDITOR’S NOTE:  Excerpted from Mississippi State University Extension Service report.




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