- Tip #1: Be Water-Wise
Water is a precious resource, so when you're designing a garden, consider options for collecting or reusing water that would normally be "wasted." Set up a rainwater collection system or reuse bathwater with a gray water recycling system. Once you've collected the water, remember that the best time to give plants a drink is in the morning, when less will be lost to evaporation.
- Tip #2: Protect Plants Without Pesticides
If you're a new gardener, chances are you'll be surprised by some sort of infestation before the growing season is over. Connect with local gardeners to determine the most common problems in your region, and then look for organic fixes. Many pest-control solutions can be concocted from household items. For example, aphids are deterred by garlic and cayenne pepper, slugs find eggshells unappealing, and ants (who can exacerbate an aphid problem) dislike coffee grounds and vinegar. Before you apply organic treatments, be sure to research their effect on beneficial insects like ladybugs.
- Tip #3: Turn Food Scraps Into "Gardener's Gold"
Reduce waste and give your garden a healthy dose of nutrients by composting food scraps and yard clippings. Or, if wigglers don't give you the willies, give vermicomposting a try. Using compost, or "worm tea," is a great way to fertilize your garden naturally. Short on space? Not to worry: compost bins and worm condos come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Some communities also pool their resources and form massive compost heaps.