Like any good hippies, we love to garden. It’s a wonderful way to connect with nature in your home, eat healthy and fresh food, and remove carbon dioxide from the air. Let’s talk about ways to make your garden as sustainable as possible.
When selecting plants for your yard, think about what is native to your climate and region, since these plants usually require less water. You can relocate native plants that are volunteers or take cuttings from a friend or neighbor’s garden. If you’re purchasing plants, look for organic, native plants that come in ceramic pots instead of plastic. Also, instead of using plastic garden ties, you can try these reusable Velcro garden ties!
Food Not Lawns
Lawns are honestly a bit of a waste of space – see this Columbia article for more information. Instead of a lawn, consider an organic vegetable garden and fruit trees. These plants give you the added benefit of fresh food, sequester carbon, and help reduce food waste. To learn more about food and the environment, check out our post on food. You can sprinkle wildflower seeds or edible flowers among your vegetables too if you’d like some additional color. Emma’s mom was able to pretty much turn their front yard into primarily garden and chicken coop space by just building some garden planter boxes!
Fertilizers are an important component to growing plants, but traditional fertilizers contain many harmful chemicals that end up in our water systems, food, and harm our flora and fauna. Additionally, if fertilizers leach into our waterways, they can contribute to hypoxic dead zones, or zones that cannot support life because of a lack of oxygen.
Organic fertilizers are derived from animal or plant matter, such as manure, peat, slurry, animal waste from meat processing, or guano. One way to go about acquiring high-quality organic fertilizer is to raise chickens and use their guano to help revive your soil – and get fresh, tasty eggs out of the deal.
Here is a review of some commercially available Environmentally-Friendly Fertilizers (EFFs). Another option is to consider using your compost pile in conjunction with your garden to help add nutrients back to your soil.
Rainwater can be harvested, stored, and distributed to your garden. Greywater systems can help you water your yard with gently used water from around your home – like toilet, shower, and washing machines.
The ideal system for watering is drip irrigation, which only releases a small amount of water at a time directly at the desired locations. If you are using a sprinkler, however, ensure that the spray is directed at your plants and not the cement. It’s best to water at night, which reduces the amount of water that is lost to evaporation.
Pollinators, like bees, birds, and bats, are key players in helping plants reproduce. In particular, bees have been threatened by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in recent years, which is caused by many factors including harmful pesticides, reduced habitat, and bee pests.
In order to support the pollinators near your garden, you can limit your use of non-organic pesticides and plant pollinator-friendly plants, listed here based on your region in the US. Ideally, you would plant a mix of plants that bloom in different seasons. Also, a hummingbird feeder can make a beautiful addition to your garden.
If you’re intrepid, you can try your hand at backyard beekeeping! Beekeeping is a great way to ensure pollinators populate your garden and get some delicious, organic honey in the process.
For those of you who don’t have a space for a compost pile at your house or if you rent, you can look for services in your area that come collect green waste or try a freezer compost bin and take it to a local community garden compost when it gets too full. If you’re lucky and have a surplus harvest from your garden, you can freeze or dry the excess or give it to neighbors, family, or friends to eat fresh.