COLUMN: Resolve to garden greener in 2022

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Gardeners have many opportunities to make their resolutions come true because we are always trying to make our gardens better.

Here’s an idea whether you’re a beginner or experienced gardener: Resolve to garden greener and protect our environment.

Here are some ideas on how you can make this garden resolution a reality.

Resolve to protect pollinators

Pollinators are key to boosting the productivity of our food crops and they also insure the survival of many flowering plants.

Bees are major pollinators and what we hear about the most; however, there are many other pollinator players. Resolve to learn about the generalists: insect pollinators such as wasps, beetles, butterflies, moths, and flies. There are also vertebrate pollinators such as bats and hummingbirds.

Make a part of your yard a pollinator magnet by providing food, shelter, and water for pollinators.

Select a sunny spot, add nesting boxes or a simple brush pile, and add multiple plant varieties. Visit our CCE website at cceoneida.com for ideas and more information about gardening with pollinators.

Resolve to go native

About 80% of plants for sale are non-native, resulting in the average garden doing a poor job of supporting native flora and fauna. Selecting native plants, trees and shrubs will increase the diversity of pollinators, birds, and other animals.

Native plant selections reduce the risks with invasive plants and will support a resilient ecosystem in the face of climate and weather extremes.

Find out which native species you can plant in your garden by visiting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website to view the NYS Pollinator Protection Plan and download the Pollinator Pathway Project brochure: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/pollinatorpathway.pdf

Grow more and mow less

You can help beneficial insects and save money in the long run by reducing lawn space.

Is there an area of lawn where the grass just won’t grow? Consider turning it into a butterfly garden.

If you have the space, an edge of a property is a perfect spot for a wildflower or cutting garden.

There are also groundcover alternatives to lawn grass, especially for that difficult spot where grass doesn’t grow well, i.e., in full shade.

Resolve to reduce pesticide use

Combat insect and disease issues by choosing plants that have built-in resistance versus spraying with insecticides or fungicides.

Eliminate herbicides; manage weeds in between cracks and stone areas by pouring boiling water over the top growth.

Use a vinegar spray or pull weeds by hand.Weeds in the lawn develop when conditions favor their growth.

A strong, healthy lawn will naturally push out weeds. Never expect perfection when it comes to weed control in the lawn.

Over-fertilization or applying fertilizer at the wrong time can harm your lawn and isn’t good for the environment. Never fertilize without first performing a soil test.

Learn more about lawn care without pesticides by visiting Cornell’s Turfgrass Program website: https://turf.cals.cornell.edu/lawn/.

Resolve to do more to protect our environment this new year.

For more information on what you can do to live the green life, visit the NYSDEC website at: https://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/pollinatorpathway.pdfHappy new year!

Consider participating in the master gardener volunteer training in 2022! Come and visit the Extension’s Parker F. Scripture Botanical Gardens, an educational component of the Oneida County Master Gardener Volunteer program. For more information, call us at 315-736-3394 Ext. 100 or visit http://cceoneida.com/home-garden. Be sure to like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cceoneida) and check out our YouTube channel by hitting the icon at the bottom of our web page.

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