Gardening can be a key step in living a more sustainable way of life. But are you gardening in the most sustainable way possible? Good gardening practices can be implemented not only to provide food for you and your family, but also to solve many of the global problems we face. Here are some tips for more sustainable gardening that should help you make as positive a contribution as possible for people and planet:
If you are already interested in sustainability then you will no doubt already be aware that organic gardening is the way to go. Harmful chemical pesticides and herbicides, and synthetic fertilizers can pose major risks, not only to our own health but also to the health of the ecosystems around us.
But organic growing is not just about avoiding harmful products. It is also about taking a holistic approach when it comes to fertility, weeds and pest management. To be a sustainable organic gardener, you need to look at the bigger picture, and take the whole ecosystem into account.
Grow Your Own Throughout As Much of the Year as Possible
Growing your own is, of course, a very eco-friendly thing to do. Many home growers will begin by reducing food miles and withdraw support for damaging agricultural and food systems by growing their own over the summer months.
But by investing in a polytunnel, and using other steps to extend the duration of the growing season, sustainable home growers can grow not just over the summer, but all year round. Grow your own throughout as much of the year as possible, not just in summer, and you can make your garden efforts more sustainable than ever.
Grow Not Just Food But Also Other Resources For More Sustainable Living
One interesting thing to think about is that a garden cannot just provide you with food. It can also provide you with many other resources. And those other resources can also help you live in a more sustainable way.
For example, many herbs and flowers can be used not only for culinary use, but also or instead for herbal remedies. They might also be used in other ways. To make natural cleaning or beauty products, for example.
Woody material from a garden might be used for fuel, construction, or for a wide range of exciting crafting projects. Using age-old skills and crafting techniques can help you make the most of further resources that a garden can provide.
Make Your Own Compost For Sustainable Gardening
If you are not already making your own compost, then this is something to consider right away. Making your own compost is crucial both for organic gardening, and for sustainable living. When you compost food scraps, garden waste and other biodegradable materials at home, you will reduce waste. This can help you move closer to the sustainability goal of a zero waste lifestyle.
Of course, creating compost also means that you will close the loop on nature’s cycles. You will return surplus to the system. Compost can replenish nutrients in your growing areas. And can help you avoid purchasing peat-based composts and other harmful products to grow your own.
Harvest Rainwater For Sustainable Gardening
Another vital practice in an organic garden is making the most of all the rain that falls. To make sure your efforts are as sustainable as possible, you should always harvest rainwater.
Collect the water that falls on the roof of your home. And consider collecting rainwater from polytunnels, greenhouses, sheds or other garden structures too.
You should also think about how you can catch and store water in the garden in plants, and in the soil. Consider when and where rain falls, and how you can make the most of it in your garden. Think about where it is gathered, and how you will direct it to where it needs to go.
Conserve Water – Be Water Wise in Your Sustainable Garden
In addition to making the most of natural rainfall and other water sources where you live, you also need to be water wise. Conserving water is another key step for more sustainable gardening. Whether you have high or low rainfall levels where you live, making the most of all the water you have is crucial to sustainability.
Make the right plant choices – choose the right plants for the right places. Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and protect the soil. Think about how you can use sunlight and shade to your advantage to save water. Choose irrigation methods that use as little water as possible. Direct water to where it is really needed – the soil around plant roots.
Sequester More Carbon in Your Sustainable Garden
Sustainable gardening can allow you to reduce your impact on our planet in a wide range of ways. But you might not be aware that you can mitigate climate change not just be withdrawing your support for damaging systems, but also by trapping more carbon in your garden.
Plant more trees, shrubs, and perennial plants in general. Take care of the soil by amending it with plenty of organic matter and disturbing it as little as possible. Taking these steps can mean that you can sequester more carbon in your garden.
Choose Plants For Wildlife, Not Just For You
Remember, biodiversity is always key in an organic garden. Sustainable gardening is not just about choosing plants that allow you to live in a more sustainable way – such as food crops or crops that otherwise help you live in a greener way. It is also about choosing plants for holistic design – for a garden ecosystem as rich with life as possible.
Choose plants for wildlife, not just for you. Ultimately, if the wildlife is happy, you as a gardener will be happy too. Loss of key wildlife species and loss of biodiversity is a present and looming threat to food producers and gardeners. Ensure you create a wildlife friendly garden to boost natural biodiversity through the plant choices you make.
Attract Wildlife in Other Ways For a Sustainable System
To make your gardening as sustainable as possible, make sure you do not just plant for wildlife. Attract wildlife to your garden in other ways too. For example, you might create a wildlife pond, or other habitats to attract and aid a wide range of different creatures.
Consider installing bee hotels, bug habitats, hedgehog houses, bird boxes, bat boxes and more. Keep extending a helping hand to all wildlife and that wildlife will certainly help you too.
Go Zero Waste – Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair and Recycle
All sustainable gardeners should also think about waste. And how all forms of waste can be reduced through their gardening efforts. When choosing tools, containers, and other gardening equipment, follow the 5 ‘R’s of sustainable waste management: refuse, reduce, reuse, repair and recycle.
Think about how you can make use in your garden of items and materials that would otherwise have been thrown away. And make sure you are not wasting any of the natural resources that your garden can offer.
Are you gardening in a sustainable way? Share your tips, experiences and suggestions in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.