Notwithstanding the efforts of a small group of hipster gardeners and an attempt by the BBC some years ago to make it cool, there was a time when the majority of folks generally viewed gardening as the preserve of retirees with too much time on their hands.
Nevertheless, the past few years, especially these last two filled with quarantines and movement restrictions, have resulted in a home gardening revival that’s shown the world not only gardening’s benefits to mental health but its importance to the environment too!
Yet, while gardening can mitigate the effects of global warming and protect local wildlife, maintaining thriving eco-friendly gardens that promote environmental sustainability — a cause QNET has long championed — presents a bit of a challenge.
These tips, however, are guaranteed to help.
Pay attention to the soil
Whether you choose to nurture a garden on the ground or in pots on your balcony, the soil is the first thing to consider.
Good soil is the basis for a sustainable garden. And while different plants require different types of soil, as a general rule, you’d want to go for something dark and crumbly as well as alive!
That’s right. The best soil is packed with bacteria, fungi, worms and other living microorganisms. So consider adding earthworms and compost — recycled organic waste — to help improve the structure and health of your soil.
Make sure you’re composting
Speaking of compost, you should recycle all green organic discards and reuse that decomposed matter, or compost, as fertiliser.
Essentially, anything from grass clippings to twigs and leaves can be composted. And to ensure nothing goes to waste, it’s recommended you dedicate a portion of your garden (or a bin or a plastic container, called a bokashi bucket) to store the waste that’s to be turned into what gardeners call “black gold”.
Methods for breaking down your green waste into compost are numerous, though.
And you’ll have to decide what works best for your sustainable garden. However, regardless of the process, for rapid composting, experts recommend chopping material up, mixing carbon- and nitrogen-rich materials, and fluffing or turning compost piles regularly.
Plant native plants
This can be a controversial topic. Nevertheless, some gardeners who subscribe to sustainable gardening practices believe one should only plant native plants indigenous to one’s region.
There’re plenty of reasons for this, they say.
And among the most compelling are that native plants require less work and water due to being suited to their home climates. They also thrive better and provide food and shelter for the natural fauna.
Furthermore, indigenous plants don’t take over habitats and adversely affect local ecosystems as invasive or non-native plants do.
Grow your own food
Growing vegetables and fruits for your table may appear like a benefit of gardening rather than an eco-friendly practice, but it really does benefit the planet.
The main reason for this is that by growing your own food, you’re reducing your carbon footprint by eliminating the need to travel to the local grocer for supplies.
Furthermore, by planting only what you need to eat, you’re decreasing the use of harmful industrial-grade pesticides.
However, for a better, sustainable garden, you should ideally look at planting different crops and swapping out fruit and vegetables according to season, thereby maintaining soil nutrients and protecting biodiversity.
Incidentally, growing your food is a good way to maintain or begin a vegan or vegetarian journey.
Reduce use of powered tools
Industrial-scale gardens need powered mowers, trimmers and blowers.
However, a small backyard garden doesn’t require them. True, tools make gardening a whole lot easier, but in the interest of environmental impact, consider whether you really need to run that gas-powered, air-polluting mower three times a week.
The better choice is to let crops grow naturally and only trim when necessary.
And if you must, there’s always the option of energy-efficient electric or battery-operated gardening tools.