“Feeding one’s family fresh, organically-grown fruits, berries and vegetables and every renewable resource utilizing that nature provides, from rainwater to gravel.”
Sustainable gardening is one of the most important and effective sustainability practices that we can follow. Its practices and benefits include respecting, and improving the soils, using native plants, shrubs and trees to create beautiful landscapes, feeding one’s family fresh, organically-grown fruits, berries, and vegetables, and utilizing every renewable resource that nature provides, from rainwater to gravel.
As with any garden, you should be prepared to spend some time taking care of it and maintaining it, especially in the beginning when you are only starting one. You want it to succeed, to grow, and last as long as possible, so taking some extra care of it, in the beginning, will make it worth your while later on. Learn everything you can, get informed beforehand, maintain it regularly, learn the rhythm of your plants and you will stay ahead of problems.
Here, the first thing- Age-old practices like cultivating between plants with a long hoe not only suppresses weeds but aerates your soil. Avoid using chemical herbicides and toxic pesticides that extract a toll on the environment and you. Instead, follow organic weed and pest control methods. There are both health and knowledge benefits to getting down on your knees and pulling weeds. Using beneficial insects to control pests not only benefits your garden but can also become a valuable lesson in natural science for your children.
When growing vegetables, you already choose plants that mature during your area’s growing season. Making sure vegetables are hardy and high-yielding inside all your area’s climatic, prevailing soil, and elevation conditions means you use fewer soil additives and supplements, less water, and less overall effort to see them succeed.
Select plants that attract wildlife and beneficial insects to your garden. Also provide birdbaths, sandy paths for bugs to the sun in, and shady areas as well as sunny areas for various creatures. In your vegetable area, sometimes let certain veggies bolt for the flowers they produce, which attracts beneficial.
Whenever you are chopping vegetables for a meal, save the excess bits of cut-off veggies that are well-suited for making soup stock: onion skins, stems of leafy greens, carrot ends, etc. Store all of these in a plastic bag in the freezer, and when you’ve got a good stash saved up, make a batch of fresh veggie stock, relegating the veggie bits to the compost pile after draining the stock.
All supplies like ties and plant markers are recycled or repurposed (rags are torn into strips, Popsicle sticks or leftover lumber are plant markers). Well, make every attempt to minimize all that comes in or goes out of the garden. To be truly sustainable, the entire homestead must work on the closed-loop principle.
Swap produce with your neighbors and co-workers. Plan what seeds to grow so each of us has to start fewer varieties. Offer seeds to new gardeners to get them started.
Water is precious, it needs to be protected for quality as well as preserved. The sustainable gardener will utilize rain barrels and collection systems to provide water not taken from the draw-down of dwindling municipal or private sources. The sustainable gardener protects water quality by not using herbicides or pesticides that might contaminate it as it percolates through the soil and heads back to the water supply. Water that drains away or ends up in a storm sewer is wasted. Sustainable gardeners control runoff with permeable soils. They use mulch and ground covers to enable soils to hold water, so it does not evaporate or drain away quickly. The design “rain gardens,” utilizing terraces, holding pools, and raised beds to collect rainwater, allowing it to soak slowly back into the soil.
Sustainability, you take care of your garden and it takes care of you. There is nothing more rewarding than watching something grow from a tiny seed to full fruit. It fills the body as well as the soul.
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