It seems we learn more every day about how important it is to avoid many of the common agricultural chemicals that are used in growing our food. One of the best ways to avoid them – and their nasty health effects – is to grow your own sustainable garden. Here’s how.
Being a sustainable gardener means using your available resources with an eye on being smart, efficient, and supporting the natural ecosystem.
By using sustainable gardening methods, you will use fewer chemicals, have less waste, and nourish your surrounding environment. You will probably also end up saving money, as you won’t need to use as many external (or purchased) inputs.
Overall, sustainable gardening is a win-win – for you and for the environment!
These 10 tips will give you some helpful insights for starting your own sustainable garden:
1. Go Organic. Using less chemicals in your garden is more ecologically sound — and more cost effective. If you’re raising food for your family, gardening organically is even more important. Start from the ground up by building good soil, rich in nutrients; add natural compost to amend the soil. If you discover insect pests or plant disease in your garden, treat with organic solutions. To read more about organic gardening solutions, click here.
2. Mulch Your Landscape. Not only is mulching a great way to prevent weeds from springing up in your garden, it’s also an ideal method of conserving soil moisture. In areas with watering restrictions, this is especially important. Add a 2 to 3-inch layer of the mulch of your choice to your garden beds and around landscape plants. Sustainable mulch options include: shredded bark, cocoa bean hulls, pine needles, grass clippings, and coir (made from coconut hulls).
3. Plant Natives. Plants that are indigenous to your region are called natives. These plants take less work, usually require less water, and thrive better than other perennials because they are already suited to your climate, rainfall, and soil types. Additionally, native plant species provide food and shelter for the native insect and bird populations.
4. Lose Your Lawn (or part of it). A gorgeous, green, and weed-free lawn uses a lot of resources. Water and fertilizer are needed to keep most lawns looking in top shape. You can have a more sustainable lawn by reducing the area planted in grass and replacing it with easy-care perennial ornamental grasses, low-growing shrubs, or groundcovers.
5. Water Less. Having a less thirsty garden is an important element of sustainability, especially in areas where water is scarce and restricted. Xeriscaping, the method of gardening and landscaping that reduces the need for watering, incorporates a wide variety of attractive drought-tolerant shrubs and perennials. To collect water from Mother Nature, install a rain barrel at the base of one or more of your downspouts.