PHOTO:  Trees should not be mulched like this.  It can cause rot and girdling of the roots around the tree.

MIDDLETOWN, NJ  - Are you a “green” gardener? Are you aware of current environmental issues? Do you attempt to conserve your natural resources when possible? It seems that we, as individuals, must become more realistic as to how our lives are affected by what is happening in the world around us. What follows are some considerations that you can think about that will help your garden.

  • Don’t water just to water! Inspect the soil for dryness. Stick your finger into the soil around your plants up to a depth of about 2 inches. If it comes out clean, you need to water. If the soil is so dry that you can’t insert your finger, please water. To lessen runoff in your garden and to water deeply, water for a short period of time, allowing it to permeate the soil and then, about a half hour later, water again for a longer period. Do not water during the heat of a summer’s day. Too much is lost to evaporation.

  • Don’t build a volcano out of mulch! Proper mulching will cut water loss by 20% and reduce your water bill. Mulching reduces the temperature of the top four inches of soil by up to 10 degrees, reducing the stress placed on plants during summer days. And, proper mulching will reduce the weed population. Mulch should be about 2 -3 inches thick around plants and in your beds. Around your trees, make a doughnut shape with the mulch—not a volcano as is often seen. Pull the mulch away from the trunk a bit. Too much mulch will stop the roots from getting proper ventilation and cause suffocation of the plants. It also makes it harder for water to reach the underlying layers. Too much mulch covers parts of a tree that are meant to have access to the air.

Too much mulch can also cause rot and girdling of the roots around the tree. Improper mulching can kill your trees!

  • If picking new plants for your garden, think about native plants that require less water, less care and attention because they are less prone to disease. Stay clear of invasives—non-native species that cause environmental harm and/or harm to us as well.

Join us at our annual Plant Sale on May 6 from 11am to 6pm and on May 7 from 9am to 3pm at the Little Red Schoolhouse on the corner of Dwight and Middletown Lincroft Roads. You will find homegrown contributions from members’ gardens as well as new varieties and unique assortments. Your questions can be answered and advice given. Join us and learn how to become more of a “Green Gardener.” Maybe you’d even like to join us at a meeting to learn more. Call June Smith at 732-687-4950 for more information.