Interview: Rose's Sustainable Gardening Tips

Interview: Rose's Sustainable Gardening Tips

Rachael Grad
Sep 9, 2008

Rose has become a local expert in green living, as explained in the recent house tour of her lovely solar home. Her garden has so many plants, flowers and trees that it almost hides her house! Below the jump are more photos of Rose's amazing garden and her tips for sustainable gardening....

Rose's Tips for Sustainable Gardening:

1. Garden organically. If bugs attack a plant, either pick them off by hand or gracefully give up, plant something else, and realize that something wasn't right. Maybe the soil needed amending, it was too cold/hot/wet/dry, or the plant wasn't initially healthy.

2. Make sure the soil is good. When you have good soil, earthworms will thrive and help you cultivate your soil. Most importantly, plants can ward off bugs and diseases on their own and you don't need to irrigate as much (if at all). Northern Virginia has red clay, which needs lots of organic matter. Rose uses grass clippings that people are throwing away, wood chips that tree companies are happy to deliver free, used coffee grounds that Starbucks will give to gardeners, sawdust from a woodshop near her friend's house, and her composted kitchen scraps (don't use a garbage disposal if your sewage goes into a body of water, like a river or bay).

3. Choose appropriate plants. Native species and those not susceptible to diseases are ideal, particularly in an organic garden. For edibles, Rose recommends Edible Landscaping.

4. Use "lasagna" gardening to make a planting bed. For example, if you want to create a vegetable bed where there is now lawn: Cover the grass with a layer or two of cardboard, then a layer of grass clippings or used coffee grounds, then a layer of shredded paper or shredded leaves or straw or sawdust, then a layer of grass clippings or used coffee grounds, etc . You can add as many layers as you like. In 4-6 months, the grass should be dead, and the other materials somewhat decomposed. Ideally, earthworms will have found you. Their favorite food seems to be composting sod. Then you will have a wonderful, fertile bed with no digging out of grass. There is a lot of information about lasagna gardening on the web.

5. If local codes allow, use your washing machine water to water your garden.

6. Collect rain water from your roof into a rain barrel. Rainwater has more nitrogen than tap water.

7. Use your garden to build community, for example, plant a pumpkin patch in your front yard and then have the neighborhood children come to pick a pumpkin for Halloween.

8. You can never have too much basil!

9. If your garlic sprouts, plant the individual cloves.

10. Plant kale in the fall. You can harvest it all winter, unless it is completely buried in snow.

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