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Tips for a Native Garden

~ Although late summer or early fall may seem like an odd time to begin a garden, it is a great time to plan the garden and get plants and flowers into the ground before cold weather hits. If you are thinking about planting a garden, consider creating a native garden as the best way to restore native ecosystems and be kind to the environment. What better way to follow the important goal that Judaism teaches to “till and tend God’s creation, the Earth.”

Why Use Native Plants?

Before planting a native garden, it is important to have a grasp of what native plants are. By definition, native plants are plants that have existed in a particular region for so long that they have adapted to that ecosystem. This means they will grow naturally despite environmental factors that would kill non-native plants. Native plants do not require much watering or pesticides and require absolutely no fertilizers. Basically, they save a lot of time and money.

Not only is it financially convenient to plant a native garden, it is also incredibly beneficial for the ecosystem. Native plants, besides being great for aesthetics, attract all sorts of birds, bees and butterflies, creating a whole habitat in your backyard. They also reduce air pollution.

Of course, not every plant is a native plant. While some plants help the environment, others will damage it. The important thing is identifying which is which.
The technical term for the ‘bad’ plants is invasive species. Generally speaking, invasive species are plants that have been transported from a completely different region and that promptly take over where they are planted. For example, the Japanese Hop coils around the stems of other plants for support, smothering them. Some invasive species in Missouri are Honeysuckle, Japanese Hop, Winter Creeper, Garlic Mustard or Tree of Heaven. Avoid planting these anywhere in your garden unless you want to do some serious weeding.

Greening Your Community: Saving the Planet One Garden at a Time

Get more tips about the best way to create and expand a native garden by attending “Greening Your Community: Saving the Planet One Garden at a Time” on Tuesday September 20 at 7 PM at the Ethical Society of St. Louis. Register and find out more at http://bit.ly/Garden092016

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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