May is planting season in Naperville, which means it’s time for planning your summer garden. There is nothing better than locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers, and caring for them yourself can provide you with immense satisfaction for having done so! Plus, gardening beautifies the landscape of your home. The best part is, gardening is a source of physical exercise and stress relief, making it an ideal hobby for women and children of any age.
A responsible gardener helps prevent harm and pollution to the land, the animals, and your health. You can maintain an earth-friendly Naperville garden at home or at a community garden plot by reducing your carbon footprint through these energy conservation measures:
1. Rather than litter or add more waste to landfills, find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle your discarded items. Save leftover coffee grounds and vegetable peels, and use them as compost for your garden beds, or create lawn ornaments and planter markers out of wood or metal scraps. Recycle bottles, plastic, and paper with Naperville’s curbside recycling program.
2. Garden with less water. Group your plants according to how much water they require. By using fewer annuals and more perennials and shrubs, the plants with larger roots will balance out the ones that need to be watered more frequently. Collect rainwater in a barrel to use for watering your plants, and water them early in the morning, making sure to get as close to their roots as you can. Use 1-3 inches of mulch to keep the soil cooler, and know what type of soil you are working with and which plants grow best with it. While you’re at it, mulch the beds with shredded wood chips, clipped grass, and leaves.
3. Install solar garden lights. Path lighting, accent lights, task lights, and spotlights can all be solar powered, saving you on electrical costs.
4. Natural pesticides and weed control. Rather than resorting to chemical sprays, let your garden fight off invaders nature’s way. Plant chives, cosmos, nasturtium, or marigolds to attract ladybugs, so that they will in turn eat unwanted pests; plant more cover plants like Greek yarrow or creeping juniper to choke out weeds. As one of our wonderful readers pointed out, commercial weed killers are often poisonous - when used, they are soaked up by the soil and enter our waterways. The most natural methods you use, the better for you, your pets, and the community.
5. Join eco-friendly groups and programs. In Naperville, garden care is highly celebrated. The Naperville Park District’s many parks have classes for plant and nature education; there is also the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots where members of the community may register for a plot to cultivate during the growing months each year. Participating in causes alongside your family will help reinforce eco-friendly practices in the way you live and garden.
Visit these green spots in Naperville to connect with fellow gardeners and get ideas on what to plant in your garden this summer:
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