Eat fresh and save money!

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Thinking about starting up your own garden this spring? This blog will share a few tips with you on how to get started. A problem that many beginning gardeners have starting out is they want to plant as much as they possibly can, and buy several different varieties of vegetables and flowers. What ends up happening is the garden becomes so crowded that many of the plants don’t last. Here are a few tips to help you save money and ensure your garden will grow:

  • Less is more! Planting too many plants next to each other can cause overcrowding and prevent your plants from getting equal access to necessary nutrients or water. Instead of planting twelve tomato plants, plant six and space them farther apart. This will help ensure that your plants will grow and provide you with a bountiful harvest. Starting off with fewer vegetables in your garden will also help build up the nutrients in your garden and help you learn what grows best.
  • Use compost as a fertilizer. Fertilizer is essential because it provides plants with the necessary nutrients to grow, like nitrogen. Compost is also free and can be made in your own backyard. Leaf residue, bad vegetables, leftover food or even grass clippings can be added to your compost pile.
  • Plant items you like to eat that would normally cost you a lot of money to buy at the grocery store like herbs.
  • Saving water is important too! Use mulch throughout your garden to retain moisture and prevent you from having to water as much. Mulch can include woodchips, hay or even lawn clippings. Mulch can also prevent weeds from being as prevalent.
  • Plant native plants that are accustomed to the area and do not require as much water.
  • Buy rain barrels that will collect water so you can water your garden for free!
  • Considering using drip irrigation to water your garden. This will allow you to water only certain plants at a steady pace. You can make your own drip irrigation by poking holes in a hose.
  • Reuse items from your home to use in your garden—for example, instead of throwing out your milk jugs, fill them with water and poke holes in the cap to use as a watering mechanism. Or reuse old brooms as scarecrows to keep pesky animals away.
  • Lastly, make sure you are planting your garden in a spot that receives plenty of sunlight!

There are many more tips that can help people save money and energy in the garden so take the time to do your own research. At Gundersen Health System, our new hospital includes an outdoor patio area with plants. Not only does this outdoor garden look beautiful but it will be a peaceful area where patients can go and feel safe. As you can see, gardens can have more than one purpose; they can be used to produce a harvest, for their aesthetic beaut,y or even for healing purposes. So if you haven’t started a garden yet, why not give it a try?

For more information on green practices, visit www.gundersenenvision.org.

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