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A sustainable garden can no longer be considered a luxury but a necessity. It will help reduce the spread of weeds, restore soil nutrients, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable gardening means to grow garden plants in a way that will have a positive impact on the environment. Using organic fertilizer, conserving water, choosing local plants and composting are some of the ways to practice sustainable gardening. Here is a list of some of the most important eco-friendly methods you can apply in your very own garden.
1. Plant Native Plants
Choose plants that are indigenous to your locality. These plants have adapted to the kind of soil and the level of rainfall in your area and by extension, they tend to grow and flourish better than other plants with less water. Also, native wildlife like insects and birds can use them for their food and shelter and help cross-pollination.
Apart from selecting plants, which are native to your region, you should also choose plants that are drought or pest-resistant. These plants will need less water and fewer pesticides, so you can spend less time taking care of them and conserve energy and other resources. Spending some time to research and choose compatible or companion plants will be a worthwhile investment also.
2. Compost Food and Garden Waste
Composting is the process of converting organic materials (mainly waste) into a substance that can enrich the soil. This process allows you to make your personal organic plant fertilizer. Composting is a vital aspect of sustainable gardening and it offers many benefits including,
* Cutting off the need for harmful synthetic fertilizer
* Reducing the volume of organic waste taken to the landfill
* Enhancing the quality of soil in your garden
* Retaining moisture and increasing your capacity to conserve water.
To make your compost, put all your plant-based kitchen waste, grass clippings, and dry leaves in a compost bin. Let it sit for a few weeks and then add it to the soil in your garden.
3. Save Water
Clean water is an important resource and it must be conserved. Growing your garden in a sustainable way would require applying some water-saving methods. This includes giving your plants the exact amount of water they need at the time most needed. You should reduce the frequency of watering during wetter periods and increase it when it is hot and dry.
If you live in drought-prone areas, you need to observe local water restrictions and act accordingly. You have to preserve soil moisture during drought with mulch and through the use of recycled water. You also need to avoid watering the garden during the day, when the sun’ at its most intense. Instead, water the garden in the morning or at dusk when the soil can get a deep soaking without any evaporation. To further reduce waste, avoid using sprinklers or a water hose and use a watering can instead.
4. Use 100% Organic Fertilizer
If you must add fertilizer to your soil, stick to 100% organic manure. This should be preceded by a soil test. Use a soil test kit to determine whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. Likewise, avoid animal manure that has traces of antibiotics.
Using and making organic fertilizers offers you a host of benefits. It costs less, especially when it is made from self-made compost. It also provides the necessary nutrients that are easily absorbed by your plants.
5. Use Sustainable Mulch
Mulching serves as a layer of protection to your soil. It retains soil moisture and helps to control the growth of weeds. Mulch is particularly essential in areas with water restrictions. If you have not been using mulch regularly, you can start by creating space around your garden beds. Plan to add at least three inches of mulch.
Invest in sustainable mulch options. Some of the ingredients you can use for this include, shredded bark of trees, the hull of cocoa beans, pine needles, grass clippings, and coconut hull and leaves.
6. Grow Your Food
Growing your food in your garden offers a great amount of satisfaction and fulfillment. It also provides great health benefits while contributing to a sustainable lifestyle. Plant fruits, vegetables, and herbs that grow in each season. After the greens and lettuce are harvested in spring, plant tomatoes, peppers, and other crops that can withstand the hotter weather. As fall rolls in, you can then turn your attention to growing cold-weather crops. Growing three seasons worth of healthy crops in the same garden space can be very fulfilling and will keep you busy practically all year round.
7. Harvest Rainwater
Set up a system to collect rainwater in your yard and use it to conserve water for garden use. Using rainwater helps you to avoid using water from the public water supply. However, you need to mindful of the water collection as the months turn colder and prevent the water from freezing over, should the temperatures drop to zero or below. If the system is designed with below-ground piping, then the adverse weather shouldn’t be a problem, otherwise, you’ll need to empty the tank and the pipes to prevent freezing or cracking.
8. Conserve Energy
Using powered tools that run on petrol or diesel can have a negative impact on the environment. Reduce the use of brush cutters, blowers, and mowers to the barest minimum. Instead of using machines to till the ground, manually remove weeds or cultivate your garden, and make use of available hand tools like the humble shovel and rake.
9. Use Renewable Resources
Always look at the source of any garden materials you use. If you buy mulch, for instance, ensure that it comes from renewable sources. Opt for recycled materials and make use of renewable or reusable materials for your nursery. Making mulch from leaves and shredded newspapers, or using old toilet tissue and egg cartons for indoor seedlings are just some examples of how to apply recycling in your garden.
Practicing sustainable gardening is an important way to preserve and improve our environment. If you apply the tips offered here, you will be able to maintain an eco-friendly garden that will save you money, reduce your carbon footprint and, crucially, improve the overall health of your entire family.