4 Earth-Friendly Items Your Garden Needs

We asked our resident green thumb, Paulette, to share a little bit about how she gets ready for her for gardening season. Check out her adventures and tips below, and share your own too! 

It seems like every spring; I have a renewed sense of ambition about what I want to accomplish in the yard. I’ll sip coffee on a dewy April morning, as I peer out my kitchen window and make mental notes that go something like this: “(Sip) I really need to get ahead of the weeds this season. (Sip) I’d love to plant those juicy Beefsteak tomatoes this year – if I can find away to keep those #$*& squirrels from burgling them before they ripen. (Sip, eyes narrow) Squirrels…pfft…just one bushy tail away from being ‘tree rats’…” (It’s possible I have some squirrel aggression I need to work out separate from this article.)

Then, invariably, within what seems like minutes of my musings, I hear a commercial for a news segment blaring from the TV: “Is killing your weeds also killing your children??!! Special report tonight at 10:00!"

Oh, really... So… either I let the weeds and the squirrels take over, and have a safe family. Or, I spray, trap, treat and prune, and wait for my children to start growing a tail from the side effects? This feels like a lose-lose. But, I really like to win, so I went in search of better options.

An online search for the green middle ground on this issue only yielded more frustration – I’m not looking scare the weeds. I don’t need a bunch of ‘Pinterest Perfect’ ideas for how to turn a vintage range into a French Country tomato garden planter in 87 easy steps. I just want to reuse some stuff from the garage and grow a few Beefsteaks that have a fighting chance of making it onto my salad this year. And, while I’m all about upcycling and being environmentally friendly, I don’t have a lot of extra time, money, or patience for gardening ideas that take a lot of time, money and patience. So, long story short… (am I rambling yet?), here are some of my ‘best-of’ tips for green gardening that are super-easy, super-affordable and super-fast. Oh, and they actually work.

1. Natural Weed Killer

The combination I chose to use from this article was the one with pickling vinegar, salt, Meyers dish soap. The best part is, it's kid and pet-friendly, so the furry families will thank you too. 

2. Tomato Cages

As you now, I'm very anti-squirrels... at least when it comes to my garden, but I've finally found a solution that works: crop cages. It's a little most costly (about $75-100), but can also be reused every season. I look at it as garden ROI where no one... not even my crafty enemies... get hurt.

3. Landscaping with herbs!

Most come back every year, plus you can eat them! I plant them in my mulched landscaped beds, and they grow beautifully. Plus, even when most produce go down in price, fresh herbs always seem to cost a pretty penny. This way, you get the pretty and save your pennies too. Here's an article with some inspiration that I found really helpful!

4. Upcycling Wooden Shipping Palettes

These are like gold to a gardener (at least if that gardener is me). I am kind of obsessed with reusing wooden palettes – mostly because they are very easy to come by. Many people wind up with them after a large delivery, like an appliance or new sod, so even if you don't get these deliveries, you may have a friend who is willing to share their wooden riches. You can find plenty of ideas, like these, from a little research but my faves are mini gardens and kid’s gardens... this way, everyone gets to have a little fun.

Paulette wants us to be sure you know that she does not consider herself a master gardener, and would LOVE to hear your tips, or any builds you have on the ones she's shared! Also, all the squirrels in her yard (insofar as we know) continue to live out happy, healthy squirrel lives... they just outsource their tomato needs to other neighborhoods now. Ok, time to share your own gardening advice below!

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Tracey S.
great article and I have started my vegtable garden the tomatoe cage and advice very helpful
Amber C.
Human hair. Go to your stylist as ask if she/he would gather up a bag of hair trimmings for you to spread in your garden to keep the rodents out.
Sarah L.
I'm using used coffee grounds as a fertilizer, ashes to keep pests away (chicken wire surrounding it to keep out deer and rabbits) and I don't pull every weed. My garden is doing great so far!
April P.
1. Don't kill the dandelion! Those are pretty and eatable. 2.I don't have squirrels I have cats. I need one of those cages to keep the cats from using my garden as a litter box. But then It will obstruct the view of the flowers. Plus I don't have money for that. 3.I started a garden this year because of tragedy and I was sad. Plus I found that my flowers from 2 years ago started coming up from seed. I want to encorporate herbs. I got some lemon grass but I'm not sure how big it is going to get. I want my garden to look similar to that picture but mine has more flowers. 4. That looks kind of messy and heavy to me. But I agree with the reuse, I would like to be handy enough to make stuff out of pallets too. Perhaps a cat house. :)
Lesa C.
I'm like she is, sipping coffee and making plans! I love the palette idea!
Miranda P.
Those cages are awesome! I'll have to save up for some of those.
Darlene L.
Great writing Paulette!
Jessica D.
I like all these ideas.
Vee H.
I grow tomatoes every spring and they come out just right. I feel like I'm ready to try other vegetables.
Tonya H.
I have always planted herbs and vegetables. This year I'm going to try to make them a more integral part of my landscape.