Summer will be with us until Daylight Savings Time forces us to mend our ways. Until then, the heat of day works to slow us down.
Here are a few house and garden ideas for capitalizing on keeping it slow, easy and mindful while the days are long.
Pass It On. The old Southern tradition of passalong plants is a terrific way to be remembered by your friends. Every time they see the plant, friends will think of you. Succulents are especially easy, as are aloe, and agaves. Pot the pups and allow them to dry out between waterings. Store by the door, or wherever you will look at them regularly. Give as hostess gifts. Or pot in tiny containers to use and re-use as table décor for outdoor dinner parties. No, it didn’t cost a lot; yes, it means a great deal.
Recycle those clippings. Not everyone has room for a mulch pile in the yard. Even with ample space, not everyone wants to look at a wire cage (wonderfully inexpensive!) filled with leaves and grass clippings. Nor does every budget allow $50 to $65 on a black recycled plastic compost bin. Solution: Those shrubs and trees that can tolerate roughly chopped cuttings under their canopy are the perfect candidate for self-mulching. Plants to rule out include any that are susceptible to fungal diseases on leaf or stem, including roses, camellias, stone and pomme fruits, tomatoes, hydrangea, and hibiscus, however. Citrus often harbor leaf miners, aphids or whitefly, so send those to the trash, too. Shrubs and trees such as pittosporum, privet, euonymous, avocado, jacaranda or boxwood, if pest -free, accept their own leaves as suitable mulch. When it’s time to trim, chop branches and leaves as finely as possible and drop them under the drip line of the parent shrub. As they break down clippings feed the soil and hold water in ground rather than allowing it to evaporate.
Lawn Gone. Do abandon traditional lawn wherever possible. Under tree canopies for example. From the trunk to the drip line is an easy way to begin mulching and weaning you and tree of excess water. Turf has different needs so shouldn’t grow over the surface roots of trees. Ultimately, we end up watering the lawn, shortchanging the big, deep roots. Trees thrive on occasional deep summer soak, penetrating to about 18”. Turn down the flow on sprinkler heads with your teeny, tiny screwdriver. Instead, move a slowly dripping hose around the exterior perimeter of the canopy. Remember, too, tree’s roots can extend to three times the size of the canopy. Save water, save lawn mower gas, save yourself time to read the gardening section of Patch.
Reduce chemical use. My garden is not entirely organic. I admit it. After last year’s ant infestation, I began using bait at key entrance points to the house. The ants are free to roam and find that path which doesn’t cross mine. At the compost pile, near citrus trees, knock yourselves out. Just not in my pantry or refrigerator. The rest of the plants are pesticide-free and enjoy their smelly shower of diluted fish emulsion every two weeks as a foliar feed and leaf-chewing inhibitor.
Clean Groundwater Starts At Home. We have a grey water system and a septic system. Hence, we’ve switched to low-sudsing, phosphate and chlorate-free laundry detergent. We use vinegar in laundry, on counter tops, in drains and to kill driveway weeds. Our household plumbing waste is collected every 12 to 24 months, and added in with all the other collected bio-solids for recycling. I don’t want to buy my neighbor’s medications, flushed down the toilet, collected in the septic system and eventually emptied into the landfill. Nor do they want to deal with my Clorox, Murphy’s Oil Soap and Scrubbing Bubbles. So we just don’t buy those products any more.
We are not perfect but we are trying. When our consciences lead to more conscientious practices, it’s increasingly easy and even natural to go green.