Whether you have a backyard garden oasis or simply perch a flowerpot on a windowsill, organic gardening is about putting nature first, according to experts from Canadian Organic Growers. Here are a few tips from this Ottawa-based national charitable organization.
Choosing hardy native plants could make a garden easier to maintain, since plants have adapted to local conditions. This approach can apply to the most urban of settings — for example, one of TD's recent initiatives was to create a ”living roof” of drought-resistant creek sedge grass on the roof of a downtown Toronto TD Canada Trust branch. Use the Evergreen Native Plant Database to find plants for your region.
Be water wise
Nourish your garden with leftover cooking water and rainwater captured in a screen-covered barrel, suggests Ashley St. Hilaire, Project Coordinator of Canadian Organic Growers. Other water-saving ideas:
Water the roots of your plants before 9 a.m. to reduce evaporation of water in the sun or in higher temperatures.
Measure rainfall in a small container so you know when to skip the sprinkler — healthy lawns need 2.5 centimetres of water weekly.
Longer grass holds more water, so set your mower to six to eight centimetres.
Detox your yard
Switch from harmful pesticides to weed-choking mulch and natural repellents, which can be found in The Organic Backyard, a guide to applying organic farming practices to your home or community. Manually remove insects and consider planting companion plants that can naturally reduce pests — for instance, flowering onions planted near roses and carrots can help keep bugs at bay.
Eat it up
An edible garden can provide a homegrown harvest of fresh, wholesome food, and you don't necessarily need lots of land: Growing containers of herbs, such as chives and mint, is a way to connect your family to gardening and the ecosystem, regardless of the size of your outdoor space.