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Is your thumb in need of some gr ...

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:02pm

Is your thumb in need of some greening? Get in touch with your inner green by designing a small and simple garden for your home or office. Consider growing a few herbs and vegetables in that small plot in the yard or on the roof-top of your office building. Such a project can benefit involved individuals, function to build communities and connect all to their dependence on the environment through food.

A garden produces food, but the act of planting and maintaining a garden has green advantages besides local, homegrown veggies. The garden in your home or office can be a community-building activity that encourages environmental awareness. It is relaxing hobby as well as an educational tool. Your family or staff can work individually or collectively on the garden, which itself can convey a connection between ourselves and the environment. Also note that gardens can positively contribute to the LEED certification of a building (make sure they meet LEED requirements for greenroofs though!).

To begin your garden:

1. Determine location: This will most likely depend on what space you have available and what type of plants you’d like to grow. Don’t worry if only a partially shaded spot is available because many plants thrive in those conditions. To determine what plants will do best in what conditions, whether you have a place in mind or have a plant in mind first, simply look at the facts provided on seed packets or tags.

2. Check your soil:Measure the pH of the soil and determine the type of soil you are working with such as sandy, rocky or clay. Match these soil conditions with the plant specifics on tags or seed packets. Soils can be improved with organic matter like compost.

3. Prepare the plot by either smothering or removing the pre-existing grasses and weeds. Consider constructing a raised-bed if you are designing a garden on a roof-top or another place where ground space is not available.

4. Plant: The plants can be started from seed in small pots indoors and then transplanted or grown strictly outside depending on the local climate of your area. Water your plants thoroughly when first planted.

5. General maintenance: Water (about 1 inch a week unless it rains), weed, remove old blossoms and ripe fruit promptly, and undertake general maintenance on a regular basis.

While you’re at it, homemade compost would go quite nicely with a newly planted garden. Compost can add nutrients in the form of organic matter that improve soil quality. Make the food cycle in your home or office full-circle by producing food and then turning your food waste into nutritious compost for your garden. No, it doesn’t have to be smelly. Just keep a tupperware container in your kitchen in which you and your family or staff can throw food scraps. Food items that are best included in compost are uncooked foods and non-meat items. When full, simply empty the compost into a larger heap or enclosed bin. If the compost is warm (between 90-140 degrees F) and moist (40-60% moisture content) then food waste is being degraded efficiently. The decomposition process requires oxygen so turn or mix the pile on a regular basis. When decomposed, apply the compost to your garden. For more info, check out these sites: howtocompost and The Compost Guide.

Good luck with your garden and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

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