There is a lot of talk about sustainable practices in the gardening world nowadays. But, what does it mean to garden sustainably? And, does it make a difference. Most importantly, though, for the home gardener – is it worth it?
What is Sustainable Gardening?
A sustainable garden works with the land and environment to build up and maintain it for generations to come, instead of stripping the land of usability and moving on. Gardening using sustainable methods means taking into account the availability and usage of natural resources to create and maintain the garden. It is an environmentally-friendly movement that focuses on the potential long term effects of gardening and its impacts on the planet.
Why are Sustainable Gardening Methods Important?
The earth does not have endless resources, and at the rate at which we use many of them, future generations will struggle to produce food. Water is not infinite. The soil needs our commitment and care to continue growing crops.
Top Three Easiest Ways to Incorporate Sustainable Practices
There are a lot of other ways to combat pests, diseases, and infestations besides using toxins
. Of course, reaching for the chemicals is easier; the companies that sell them make it that way. However, the damage caused to the environment, soil, waterways, and your garden is widespread and sometimes irreversible. Also, it's not safe for your family to have toxic chemicals around; children and pets can get into them. Plus, some leach into the vegetables, negating all your hard work providing nutritious foods for your family. Chemical products also seriously affect wildlife. Hawks and other predatory birds who eat a poisoned rat or vole will also die from the toxicity. It's time to rethink how we react and interact with problematic garden issues.
A compost pile doesn't have to be a huge commitment that takes up a lot of space. There are a wide variety of composting options available to the home gardener
. Composting provides two critical benefits. First, it recycles litter and waste that otherwise would go into a landfill. This means less trash is going to our already overfull landfills. Second, composting creates nutrient gold for the soil and garden. Soil gets depleted of nutrients every time it is used to grow something. Those nutrients need to be replenished regularly in order for the garden to produce anything. Compost is the natural fertilizer that a garden needs every year to keep the soil healthy and nutrient-dense.
- Practice Water Conservation
In some areas of the country, it feels like water is an inexhaustible resource. Other parts of the country are very aware of the limited supply of water. No matter where you live, it is essential to recognize that our water supplies are not infinite. Maybe our generations will be fine, but future generations are going to have a considerable struggle resourcing drinkable water.
There are ways today that the home gardener can alleviate issues in the future. Rain barrels are an excellent and easy way to conserve water
. Most home gardens are watered from spigots and taps that provide potable drinking water. The garden doesn't need that clean water. Collecting rainwater reduces the use and need for tap water, plus it saves a lot of money if you are paying for water! Additionally, put aside those spray sprinkler systems that waste slews of water. Drip irrigation systems take a little more effort to set up, but once arranged, they water more efficiently, effectively, and judiciously.
Sustainability philosophy makes it clear that every person and every action matter. You may feel that the impact you have is small and won't make a difference. That is far from the truth! Even if you are only able to incorporate a few of these practices, it impacts the environment today and for future generations. More and more people are utilizing sustainable gardening practices, and the more that do, the greater the impact. The best time to start is now, and the best way to start is small. Implement one practice this year, another one next year, and in a few years, you'll have a thriving eco-friendly garden to provide nutritious, healthy food for you and your family.