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Garden With Harmony offers full service garden coaching and consultation, whether you want to grow herbs on your window sill, start raised beds, or require full scale garden design. We can help with all of it!
Harmony is a garden coach & consultant who has been gardening since she was a child. She learned from her father who taught her that with every season comes a new success and a new challenge. With 10 years in the U.S. Navy she has had the opportunity to garden in multiple climates and has started over more times than she can count.
Harmony is the host of the Garden With Harmony Podcast and live streams on Twitch playing garden games and offering live garden advice.
When not in the garden you can find Harmony curling up with a good book, painting, or spending time with her two daughters, husband, and dog.
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Follow along with Harmony to learn more about gardening. Each episode of Garden With Harmony will be a new lesson from the garden accompanied by a Q &A session and a reflection on how we can use that lesson in and out of the garden.
Whether you're a new plant parent or a Master Gardener you’ll find this get something out of this podcast.
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Welcome to Garden with Harmony. I am your host Harmony and for today’s lesson from the garden we talk about different ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle in the garden. During the course of this episode, we’ll discuss what that means, steps you can take, and how you can make the biggest impact.
Everyone’s heard the phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle”. It’s been around since the 70’s and the concept has been around even longer. Taking steps to be more eco conscious can save you money on grocery bills, reduces waste in landfills, is environmentally friendly, and most of the tips we cover today are great to take on with the kiddos.
While reusing and recycling are great components of waste reduction it really starts with reducing the items you are consuming or using in the first place. I used to struggle with this because I wanted to buy all the things. And I find myself justifying this habit still when I buy 6 different kinds of seeds that I don’t need because they were on sale. I try to use toddler logic on myself. And by that, I mean the logic I used on my young children. “Do I want it, or do I need it?” And often I find that I don’t really need it. A recent example of this is just last spring I was constructing new raised beds. I wanted all the beds to be 4 foot high made with galvanized steel. My darling husband made a prototype for me and while I love the ease of access, I have with it, I don’t love the cost for materials and soil even after filling the bottom with branches and leaves. And the thought of doing that 8 times over was overkill. So, I reduced my materials to 4 2x6s and 4 deck blocks per bed. Another way I’ve reduced my consumption is by looking for tools with multiple purposes. My hori hori knife, a basic sharp hoe, a wheelbarrow, and water container are really the only tools I’ve used in the garden for awhile now. I thought I needed to have all the newest gadgets when I started gardening. I thought I needed to buy the fanciest fertilizer and after making my own manure tea and weed tea I am happy with both of those. You can use what you have on hand for mulch like leaves, grass clippings, pine needles rather than buying another product. You can also reach out to your local composting facility for free or low-cost mulch. And if you need a lot of mulch sign up for Chip Drop or flag down a local tree cutter. This is a great way to get free mulch and put it to use.
The less you consume, the less waste there is to reduce and recycle. And really, reducing your consumption really comes to mindset. Once you decide you want to, you still have to train yourself to think more critically when it comes to buying items you may not need.
Next let’s talk about ways to reuse items in the garden! Reusing is different than recycling in that you are keeping the original item and extending its lifespan, usually for another purpose. Whereas recycling is creating raw material for a new product. When it comes to reusing items in the garden the only limit is your creativity. Almost anything can become a planter. Boots, chairs, cinderblocks, anything. I use milk jugs in the winter for winter sowing to start my seeds. Tires are commonly recommended for use as planters, but there’s enough debate that I don’t use them in the garden. However, if you do have some lying around and have goats, I highly recommend you put a few in their pens buried about halfway. Goats love to play, and tires are perfect for this! You can start seeds in used tea bags if you’re patient enough or in toilet paper rolls or paper pots from newspaper.
You can use soda cans, paper cups, juice boxes, egg crates, just about anything to start seeds. You can reuse nursery plant pots if you have any lying around from last season. If you are using any plastic always double check that it’s food safe. Old doors and windows are great for building greenhouses and cold frames. If you want to feel better about the Amazon boxes showing up at your door cardboard is a great weed barrier! Burlap sacks make great weed barriers as well and make great grow bags! Old bricks, pavers, concrete, and stones are great for creating pathways in the garden.
It’s easy to find pallets for free on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. These can be torn down completely and reused for almost anything in the garden as well. You could make raised beds, fencing, a floating patio, garden furniture, garden benches, potting benches. Or leave them as they are and build an easy compost bin. To be safe always check the stamp on the pallet and look for Heat Treated wood, not chemically treated wood. My favorite bench in my garden is made with a few found 2x4s and two square concrete blocks. Rainwater is another thing I love to reuse. But not everyone has the space for rain barrels. I have a friend who keeps milk jugs on her patio to water her plants in her apartment.
Kitchen Scrap gardening is a great example of reusing what you have! There are quite a few vegetables you can regrow from kitchen scraps. Ideally, you’d do this with items you already grow in your garden. However, if you are using store bought scraps, I recommend you start with items bought from the farmers market or at least organically grown. You can replant the whites of green onions with the root side down in some potting soil or keep in a shallow dish or glass of water. Green onions can be harvested 3-4 times before you need to start new. Romaine lettuce is similar. You can place romaine hearts in water and watch as fresh leaves grow. You can also leave about 2 inches at the bottom of a celery stalk and place in a shallow dish. You’ll see new leaves growing within a week. Sweet potatoes are a little different from the others I already mentioned in that you’ll want at least one whole sweet potato. You can suspend the potato in water and sweet potato slips will grow. Once they get to be a few inches you can transplant to the garden. If you’ve got a few extra stems of herbs like basil or cilantro you can throw them in a glass of water to root before transplanting. Often in garden hack videos you’ll see people regrow root veggies like carrots or beets. This method is the same as regrowing celery, but you will only regrow greens, not the root vegetable itself.
Don’t forget you can also save seeds from any veggies you cook with for future planting. You can save fruit seeds, but for most things like blueberries and strawberries it’s best not to start from seed unless you are okay with waiting a few years before harvesting. However, watermelon seeds are my favorite seeds to save. If you’ve got more seeds than you know what to do with consider finding a local seed swapping group in your community. You may be able to help someone find what they need while crossing off a few items on your own list without visiting the store.
If kitchen scrap gardening is not your thing composting might be for you. Composting falls more into true recycling. You are taking the garden waste and creating new compost. If you don’t have room for large scale composting, you might give trench composting a try. For this, place the kitchen waste directly in the garden bed, digging a few inches down. You can also check to see there’s a local composting facility near you. If your town offers leaf and lawn waste pickup that’s a good indicator, they have a composting facility. You can either contribute to their composting efforts or check out their options for low cost compost.
I don’t want to sound as if I am suggesting to never purchase anything again. But, in those instances choose wisely. Use your dollars to send a message and purchase recycled goods over new. Choose handmade goods over mass produced ones. Make an active decision to reduce, reuse, and recycle consistently.
As we close out this episode let’s look back on what we discussed. We covered the basis of reducing, reusing, and recycling in the garden, and different ways to do so.
But, what’s the lesson from the garden and how can we apply it to ourselves? The little things add up. Most if not all the tips I suggested today are small steps in the right direction. And in the grand scheme of things, we may even wonder what kind of impact we are truly making. But as we become more aware of our actions and hold ourselves accountable it becomes easier to demand change from the organizations who do make the most impact. As we find ways to become better it becomes harder to accept the status quo. What we’ve accepted in the past is not good enough for our children and it’s our responsibility to pave the way. We can’t change the world in a day. But it starts and ends with small changes towards a big goal.
Thank you for being here with me for today’s episode of Garden With Harmony. Be sure to like, follow, or subscribe on your preferred podcast platform for new episodes.
And if you really like what you heard today leave me a review on Apple Podcast and tell me all about it! For more information about today’s episode, links, and shownotes please go to my website www.gardenwithharmony.com
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