Chemical-free for Spring Part I

Spring is right around the corner…hopefully. Here in the Chicago area it seems like winter will never release it’s stronghold it’s had upon the area the past month! In November, December and even the first half of January, it seemed more like spring or autumn, but then the “bottom dropped out” in mid-January with frigid, single digit temperatures and then inches upon inches of snowstorms in the month of February and below normal temps in March — who knows what April holds in store for us. So, no wonder we’re ready for spring – we’ve had enough!

For many, images of a green lawn, flowers and lots of homegrown fruits and vegetables means springtime! But, can you have a green thumb and still be good to the Earth and not use all of those nasty pesticides and other chemicals you see front and center in the stores from spring through autumn?

First, the lawn. Everyone wants that perfect, bright green lawn, but you don’t need to douse it with gallons of water and loads of harmful chemicals to have a beautiful lawn. According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), testing and treating the soil with natural products is the first step toward natural lawn care.

The NRDC further explains, “To aid your organic conversion, many university cooperative extension offices will test your soil for organic matter, nutrients and pH for a small fee. Once you know what’s in your soil, you can begin to bring it back to life…liquid compost…can help restore beneficial microbial life.”

Other steps the NRDC advises:

  1. Go native – use grasses suitable for your climate
  2. “Read the weeds” – weeds can serve as “messengers” to tell you what’s wrong with your soil, but not all weeds are bad
  3. Water only when needed, when the grass is wilting – an idea to cut down on water consumption is to use rain barrels

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