Green Gardening

Green gardening

These days there’s more to gardening than a green thumb. As we strive to give our environment a little more respect gardeners are adopting green strategies.

Growing your vegetables, herbs and flowers right in your own backyard can lower your carbon footprint and your grocery bill. Even landscaping can take on a greener, less costly approach now. Here are a few tips on how you can make you yard and home garden just a little more green.

Grow your groceries

Get up close and personal with your herbs, fruits and vegetables. When you grow your own food you know it’s fresh and the flavor is extraordinary! And the savings on your grocery bill is a welcome bonus.

Some of the most commonly grown vegetables are Tomatoes, Peppers, Cucumbers, Beans, Radishes, Onions, Lettuce and Cabbage. You may also want to try Eggplant, Cauliflower, Rutabaga, Broccoli, Corn, Parsnips, Turnips, Potatoes, Garlic, Carrots, Spinach, Beets, Squash, Pumpkins and Melons.

There are many fruits that grow easily in Wisconsin. Fruit trees are a beautiful addition to your yard and have the added benefit of edible rewards. The Southeast corner of Wisconsin allows a wider choice of fruit bearing trees due to the more temperate climate. There are certain varieties of the following fruit trees that are able to withstand Wisconsin winters: Apple, Apricot, Cherry, Pear and Plum.

Growing small fruits can be fun and rewarding also. Blueberries are native to Wisconsin and are packed with antioxidants. Raspberries and Strawberries are a very popular choice for Wisconsin gardeners and are relatively easy to grow in our climate. You may also want to try your hand at planting Grapes. A well cared for rape arbor can last for 50 or 60 years!

Herbs are great to grow at home since you can easily grow them outside or right in your kitchen. There is nothing like fresh herbs and if you’ve checked the prices at your grocery store you know it’s a wonderful way to save money!

If you have questions about a particular herb, fruit or vegetable you want to grow, call or stop by Bayside Garden Center – we’ll be happy to help.

Grow native plants

Instead of asking can this plant or tree grow here, try asking yourself, “should it?” By choosing native species of plants you can cultivate a beautiful, low maintenance yard. Because these plants are born to grow in their native environment you will save time and money by reducing the water and maintenance required for non-indigenous varieties.

Here are just a few of Wisconsin’s native plants: Wild Ginger (Asarum species), Aster, Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species), Butterfly Weed (Asclepias Tuberosa), Columbine (Aquilegia hybrids), Fern (Athyrium, Matteuccia, Osmunda et al), and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea Purpurea). Native grasses include Bluestem, Prairie Dropseed, Sedge and Switchgrass. Native shrubs include Chokeberry, Dogwood (Cornus species), Ninebark, Potentilla, Viburnum and Witchhazel. Trees that are native to Wisconsin include Ash (Fraxinus species), Beech (Fagus species), Birch (Betula species – also known as paper birch or canoe birch) Elm (Ulmus species and hybrids), Hawthorn (Crataegus species), Hemlock, Honey Locust, Ironwood, Kentucky Coffee Tree (oddly named for a Wisconsin native), Larch, Linden (Tilia species), Maple (Acer species), Musclewood, Oak (Quercus species), Pine (Pinus species), and Serviceberry (Amelanchier species).

Download PDF of UW list of Native Plants for Southern Wisconsin

Grow a butterfly friendly garden

What’s green about a butterfly garden you wonder? The answer is butterflies and honeybees are pollinators, and they’re dying at an alarming rate. Pollinators are crucial to our food supply as they have a major affect the world’s crop production. Butterflies, bees and birds help spread pollen to fruits, vegetables, nuts and spices. Your garden can be a haven to our pollinating friends if you choose to grow a selection of butterfly friendly plants and provide a pesticide-free environment.

Butterflies are attracted to Lavender, Daisies, Black-eyed Susan, Cosmos, Purple Coneflowers, Cornflowers, Day Lilies, Dianthus, Impatiens, Milkweed, Petunias, Purple Coneflowers, Salvia, Scarlet Sage, Snapdragons, Sweet Alyssum, Verbenas, and Zinnias. As a general rule of thumb, butterflies are drawn to red, yellow, orange, pink or purple blossoms. Ideally your garden will have staggered bloom times for a full season.
Sunny gardens are the most attractive to butterflies so for optimal butterfly populations make sure your garden gets full sun mid-morning through mid-afternoon. A few well-placed flat rocks will give your butterflies a place to sun themselves too.

For more information on Attracting Butterflies see our Knowledge Center.