Sustainable gardening protects the planet through practices that preserve it or reduce our impact on it. It helps minimize the resources we use for our gardens and increases the yield which includes food, compost, and mulch.
Sustainable gardening practices entail using organic gardening techniques and conserving natural resources like water, materials, land, and so on. These practices also cut down on the use of fuel, transport, and toxic petrochemical fertilizers, reducing harm to the environment.
This in turn provides us with fresh and delicious healing foods while helping us live more consciously and sustainably.
But creating a sustainable garden requires careful planning and incorporating good design principles. Here are our top 10 easy yet effective tips to help you cultivate a sustainable, organic, and productive garden.
1. Go Green and Avoid Chemicals
Starting a sustainable garden with a safe and healthy environment for your plants and your health involves staying away from harmful chemicals. They damage plants and the health of human beings and animals while posing disastrous consequences.
Avoid using toxic herbicides, petrochemical pesticides, and inorganic fertilizers that contaminate and pollute the soil, water, and air. Instead, switch to natural, organic, and safe pest management solutions. These let you work with nature and prevent harm to you, other people, pets, and the planet.
2. Creatively Reuse Resources
An easy yet important way to become a sustainable gardener is to use local renewable resources whenever you can. Also, consider planting your own natural resources such as bamboo.
Moreover, recycle and repurpose things in your home that you can use in your garden rather than buy new supplies. This helps you avoid wasting materials and resources, helping you slash your environmental impact.
3. Use Sunlight and Shade Wisely
When growing a sustainable garden, it is crucial to pick spots in your garden that get at least six hours of sunlight. This helps your plants grow better and avoids the use of gardening supplies like LED grow lights or umbrellas.
Garden areas that receive only partial sun or more shade are suitable for cultivating vegetables that love these growing conditions. Some plant ideas include lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, cabbage, carrots, and root vegetables.
4. Harvest Water
Sustainable gardening entails using water that you get naturally from nature as much as possible. Incorporate rainwater harvesting practices and collect water in buckets, rain barrels, rainwater tanks, watering cans, and swales. You can then use what you collected to meet future watering needs.
You can also collect stormwater and greywater to use in your gardens. At the same time, consider creating permeable surfaces such as mulch rather than hard landscaping as they allow water to be absorbed into the soil.
Water that isn’t collected or doesn’t soak into the earth enters the sewer drains and is wasted. Reduce runoff through high-quality soil and natural pathways that enable water to be absorbed into the ground. Planting ground cover and trees and creating raised beds also increase the water retention capabilities of the soil.
Moreover, keep your natural water supply clean and safe by steering clear of pesticides and herbicides that pollute the soil and runoff water.
Water harvesting reduces soil erosion and increases the amount of water available for healthy plant growth. It also minimizes water bills and dependence on the town’s water supply, creating a win-win situation.
5. Choose a Clever Mix of Plants
Cultivate a wide range of plants in your garden to maintain a self-supporting and balanced ecosystem.
Even small gardens can benefit from flowering plants. These attract birds, bees, butterflies, and other pollinators and beneficial insects that promote healthy plant growth. Hardy herbs are also great for their medicinal and culinary uses.
Also, choose water-wise plants that consume less water than thirsty edibles. It is wise to grow fewer annuals and more perennials and native plants. Perennials need less water and are low-maintenance. They also have deeper root penetration which helps them gather nutrients from the soil and improve the soil quality and structure.
Fruit-producing trees and bushes elevate air quality through photosynthesis. They store and conserve carbon from the atmosphere and ensure a permanent food rotation system in your garden. Trees also have a positive impact on water conservation and offer shade that ensures the slower evaporation of water from your garden.
In nature, biological matter decomposes and its nutrients are recycled and used to feed and support new life, creating a closed-loop system. You, too, can start a zero-waste garden by creating value in what you’d normally throw away. This helps you creatively reuse your waste and maximize the resources you have on hand.
Recycle and compost organic waste from your kitchen and garden by creating a compost pile. Feed it regularly by adding green matter and ash to it. It will turn into nutrient-rich black soil that you can use in your garden and pathways to naturally improve your soil quality.
7. Promote Soil Health
Top off the soil in your garden with mulch to ensure that your soil is always covered. This helps you mimic nature’s ecosystem and build healthy soil that retains water and nutrients better.
Strew dry leaves, flowers, ground covers, grass clippings, prunings, and other organic matter over your soil. This will constantly enhance your soil’s quality and structure and help you grow healthy plants sustainably.
Also, manually turn over and till the soil to break it up. Then mix it with compost to further boost its nutrient content and health.
Creating raised garden beds also improves the water retention capacity of the soil.
8. Harvest and Save Seeds
If you regularly buy seeds or plants for your garden, optimize them by choosing organic, open-pollinated ones. This helps you save and harvest seeds and propagate new plants for free. This reduces your costs and reliance on store-bought seeds and plants, ensuring sustainable gardening.
Make sure to harvest seeds of plant varieties that grow well in your garden. Also, choose seeds that are easy to harvest and store. These include bean varieties, peas, peppers, pumpkins, squash, eggplant, cucumbers, and tomatoes.
To save seeds, allow them to completely dry out in your garden. Then, store them in a cool and dark place until the next sowing season.
9. Implement Succession Planting and Crop Rotation
Improve sustainability and stretch out your harvest through succession planting. This improves the productivity and efficiency of your garden.
Vegetables like squash and tomatoes constantly bear fruit during the growing season. Others like carrots and beets complete their growing cycle during harvest.
Succession planting also helps you practice crop rotation which benefits your soil. Rotating your plants every season protects your soil from losing all its nutrients.
Note that cultivating different plants in the same garden bed each year uses up nutrients despite some crops giving nutrients back to the soil. So, avoid overworking your garden and keep it fallow for some time.
10. Design Climbing Structures From Things You Own
To maximize the use of your garden area, grow plants vertically on items that you may already own such as cages, teepees, obelisks, and trellises. These items can double as climbing structures and help you optimize your available space more effectively.
Try vertical gardening with indeterminate tomato varieties, cucumbers, winter squash, beans, and peas. These plants are excellent climbers that thrive when they’re allowed to grow vertically.
Starting a sustainable garden is great for your plants, your health, and the environment. It helps you make conscious choices about your daily life and how you use resources. You will also employ fewer chemicals, create less waste, and save money.
Sustainable gardening practices help you give back to the earth, live more sustainably, and bring about positive change in the world. So, start a sustainable garden today and do your bit to create a happier, healthier planet.