Eco-Tips For You, Your Garden, The Planet

Food Forest

A food forest differs from vegetable gardens in that it is multi-layered, with upper canopy fruit and nut trees, understory edible shrubs, and perennial ground layers of herbs, vegetables and flowers.

Edible forest gardening combines plants that are mutually beneficial, creating a garden ecosystem that is more than the sum of its parts, useful to both people and wildlife and largely self-maintaining.

‘Lasagne’ Composting

Lasagne composting, also referred to as “sheet mulching” or “no till” gardening, is a technique of layering organic matter on top of the soil, rather than tilling, to remove lawns or weeds and build soil fertility and structure to create new planting beds.

It is a low cost method that in essence mimics the forest floor, where thick layers of decaying leaves and needles decompose to create dark, crumbly, nutrient rich soil teeming with microbial life.

Keyhole Garden Beds

Keyhole gardens maximize the growing area in your garden while minimizing the need for pathways.

The shape of keyhole beds allow you to reach all of the plants from a center point without compacting the growing soils you have taken care to keep light and well drained.

Attracting Pollinators

To attract bees and butterflies to your garden, aim to have blooming plants through all seasons. Our native insects are most drawn to native plants because they have evolved together. Also, consider the life cycle needs of pollinators.

Ground nesting bees burrow in dry soils, or nest in stumps or woodpiles. Butterflies need host plants while they are caterpillars; and both need water just like birds.

Guild Garden

Plant guilds are plant combinations designed to interactively benefit each other.

The guild produces higher food yields by attracting pollinators, fixing nitrogen, accumulating nutrients from deep soils, providing mulch and suppressing weeds and pests.

The traditional 3 Sisters guild of corn, beans and squash is a simple example; the corn stalks provide a climbing trellis for the beans, the beans supply nitrogen to the corn, a heavy feeder, and the squash acts as a mulch, cooling the soil and conserving water.

Top Bar Beekeeping

Top bar hives originated in Africa. The polygon shape of the hive box is similar to the natural comb shapes built by feral bees.

Bees kept in top bar hives come from swarms or packages of bees. The greater volume of the hive, along with single layers of hanging combs along each parallel top bar inside, provides for better air circulation, observation, and disposal of debris.

This style of beekeeping produces all of the bee products, but with a greater emphasis on the health of the bees.

Mason Bees

Native mason bees are solo bees that do not swarm or sting. Adapted to our cool climate, they are active much earlier than honeybees so are valuable pollinators.

In nature, mason bees find cavities to live in, but you can build them a house by drilling 1/4″ holes into a 4″ x 4″ block of wood and hanging it in a sunny place out of the rain.

The female bee will lay her eggs inside the holes with nectar for the bee larvae and soon the adult bees will emerge to pollinate your garden.

There’s always something more to learn
about earth-friendly gardening practices.
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