Greening your green thumb

This blog post was provided by Maggie MacDonald, Toxics Program Manager at Environmental Defence, as part of our featured series on the environment.

Photo Credit: Image by Flickr user Earthworm
Photo Credit: Image by Flickr user Earthworm

Using pesticides and conventional fertilizers may make your backyard look like an oasis on the surface, but they’re the real pests.  

With summer in full swing, many people  are spending time outside gardening or  tending to their yards.

Since 2005, Environmental Defence, has helped people avoid toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment, and the garden is a great place to start.

Using pesticides and conventional fertilizers may make your backyard look like an oasis on the surface, but using these chemicals could impact your health without you noticing it.

Chronic exposure to these chemicals can impact fertility, the brain and nervous system. And when it rains, water runoff can send these chemicals into nearby creeks and rivers—ultimately ending up in our water supplies.

You don’t need to use a cocktail of toxic chemicals to keep weeds and bugs out of your garden. There are many ways that you can have a pristine backyard, while protecting the environment and your health at the same time.

Here are a few tips to help you green your green thumb this year:

  1. Stay natural –Mother Nature knows best! Use all natural compost and keep pests at bay by using essential oils (lemongrass, cedar and eucalyptus can provide protection from an array of insects including mosquitoes, ants and fleas). You can also help to ward off bad bugs by finding ways to invite beneficial insects to your garden.
  2. Choose plants that are native to your area – they are easier to grow and maintain because they are already adapted to the local environment.
  3. Vinegar, the natural weed killer – nothing can drive a perfectionist green thumber crazier than a weed in their garden. Instead of pulling out the toxic weed killer, take out a bottle of white vinegar from your cupboard. It can repel any plant (especially if it’s in a sunny spot) and is non-toxic and cheaper than conventional weed products. Note: be careful which plants you spray with it, because it doesn’t discriminate.
  4. Or just give weeds a yank – if you catch weeds early enough, you can simply pull them out of the ground. It’s best to do it early in the morning. Morning dew makes the ground moist, which in turn, makes it easier for the weeds to be pulled out.
  5. Make your own compost – save some money and help divert food waste from the landfill by making your own compost in your yard from scraps from your kitchen. Add some earthworms to help speed things along.
  6. Be Nice to the Bees– in case you haven’t heard, bees around the world are dying at a catastrophic rate. Providing a pesticide-free spot in your backyard, and even creating a pollinator garden, can be a great help to these bugs, which help put food on our tables.

Keeping your gardens and yards as natural and chemical-free as possible can go a long way to help protect your family’s health. However, toxic chemicals can lurk in many places in your home.

To learn more about Environmental Defence please visit their charity profile >>>

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