Gardening is arguably one of life’s greatest joys. Good for the soul and the environment—well, at least most of the time. Enter sustainable gardening.
The need for sustainable gardening
Little do we know it, but so many things we use in our gardens are actually bad for the environment. Chemicals, pesticides, and artificial fertilizers are just the beginning! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to maintain the nutrients in your soil, boost the health of your plants, and keep pests away that don’t require store-bought concoctions.
Mother Nature really does know best in some cases. We often forget that droves of trees and fruit-bearing plants covering our world manage to survive amidst pests and are able to fertilize their own soil just fine. Here are a few tips we’ve compiled to help you create the ideal, Mother Earth approved sustainable garden.
The king of all sustainable gardening tips, compost opens your garden up to endless possibilities. Instead of wasting leftovers, rinds, and expired food, start a compost pile in your backyard. You’d be surprised to know all the kitchen scraps you can compost and how specific you can get with your soil concoction.
Certain foods can make your soil more acidic, for example, which is excellent for plants like Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Coffee grounds and vinegar, on the other hand, are food scraps and items you can use to lower the pH of your soil naturally, which is perfect for cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, or just about any other potential star of your salad bowl or dinner plate.
2. Make your own concentrated liquid fertiliser.
Using your compost pile, you can make a concentrated liquid fertilizer, which is handy as a fast-acting nutrient supplement for your soil.
Step 1. Fill a pail with compost and water. Let sit for a day, so the water gets deeply infused with nutrients of the decomposing material.
Step 2. Get another bucket and cover the top with cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the day-old water compost over the cloth and allow the liquid to drain through.
Step 3. Use on the same day! Your concoction will be very rich, so use sparingly depending on the plant.
3. Know your insects.
Not all insects are pests. Beneficial garden bugs, or good bugs like ladybugs, lacewings, mealybug destroyers, and ground beetles are all wonderful for your garden, and are essential in keeping away bad bugs like aphids, mealybugs, and cutworms, without the chemicals of store-bought pesticides.
Attracting these natural predators of these insects that eat your plants will give you constant pest-control system that is self-sustaining and eco-friendly. Knowing how to attract and care for your good bugs will help you become a better gardener!
4. Feed your ladybugs.
Learning how to attract good bugs to your garden is easy, and you can start today by planting plants like dill, lavender, parsley, and spearmint throughout your beds. Allowing Mother Nature to wage the necessary wars she needs to keep the balance within herself may be your best decision yet—this makes your sustainable garden easy to maintain and as organic as it gets.
5. Don’t use chemicals or pesticides.
In addition to being harmful to your local ecosystem, fruit flies have grown immune to the since banned pesticide DDT. Not only have they figured out how to resist the chemicals, these flies have also developed a way to metabolise the insecticide and use it as food. Terrifyingly enough, researchers predict this will happen with other species of insect if the large-scale use of chemical pesticides continues.
6. Use rainwater.
Save energy and water by setting out a basin to collect rain. Fresh, untreated water is better for your garden, and you can even save money with rainwater harvesting by not having to run your meter using a hose or sprinkler!
7. Grow your own food.
The very first garden was probably full of food-bearing plants. Tomatoes, watermelon, and squash are beautiful plants that give back to your kitchen. Growing your own food without pesticides and harmful chemicals will be healthier for you, your family, and the world.
8. Use natural fertilizer.
If you choose to cultivate your own food garden, use a natural fertilizer to grow your food. A few ideas might include fish, eggshells, and grass clippings left over from cutting your lawn.
9. Recycle plastic bottles.
Save your bigger plastic bottles and cut the bottoms off (if you’d like to place them right in your garden). After taking off the lids, you can place them over seedlings, spray a bit of moisture through the lips of the bottle and transform them into mini greenhouses! Making your own mini greenhouses is very practical way to recycle.
10. Practice the 4 R’s.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover. Reduce the amount of waste you produce when buying products for your garden and composting your kitchen scraps, and reuse materials that aren’t biodegradable—like plastic bottles for greenhouses. Recycle everything you can, especially the packaging and plastic containers of store-bought plants and seeds.
Recovering is done in the factory, when companies use pre-existing materials in recycled plastic to make a new product. Support companies that use these recovered, recycled materials whenever you can.
Do you garden? What are your favourite tips for keeping your home garden sustainable and natural? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Title image from Audio UK