A Guide to Sustainable Gardening
What is Sustainable Gardening?
Sustainability is defined as the ability to maintain something at a certain level. It is the effort to avoid the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain a balance. As applied to our world today, sustainability is often talked about in relation to certain practices that do not exhaust our environment’s natural resources, thereby helping to preserve and sustain the earth and its natural cycles.
So then, sustainable gardening primarily relates to a style of gardening that helps the earth rather than harming the earth. Sustainable gardening means using natural methods and products rather than relying on chemical solutions for improved growth, pest control, disease prevention, and the like. Generally speaking, sustainable gardening is forward-thinking, values environments over aesthetics, reduces any negative impacts, and partners with nature instead of overlooking its capabilities. Choosing a sustainable approach to gardening is so important because while there are hundreds of effortless solutions for a productive garden, many of these chemical solutions have unintended consequences that harm other plants, insects, animals, and even ourselves. Such solutions can also have a negative effect on natural systems that are necessary for our life and survival. This is why, here at Bath Garden Center, we believe that organic gardening is the best approach, and we are committed to helping you grow better, naturally. By choosing sustainable gardening, you are choosing to cultivate your garden in such a way that your needs as well as the needs of future generations are met.
Benefits of Sustainable Gardening
Not only does sustainable gardening benefit the surrounding environment, but it can also benefit you in many ways! Here are just a few of the ways in which choosing a sustainable approach to gardening can benefit you and the environment.
Helps Prevent Weed Growth
One aspect of sustainable gardening involves planting species that are native to your area. Using native plants in your garden as well as throughout the rest of your property, in your landscaping, etc. can help prevent unwanted plants or weeds that are not native to the area from spreading. Certain plants are native to certain areas because the growing conditions are just right, and plants that are not native, even though the growing conditions could be conducive, usually do not grow well next to plants that are native. This makes it so that weeds will be much less likely to grow next to native plants, thereby cutting back on the weed population as a whole and also reducing the temptation to use chemical products to exterminate unwanted weeds.
Results in Better Tasting Produce
Companion gardening is a sustainable gardening practice that involves planting certain species that complement each other together for enhanced growth. Certain plants are particularly compatible as one plant may use one nutrient that another plant does not. They will grow well next to each other as they will not be in competition for certain valuable nutrients. Others are natural pest deterrents, help enhance other plants’ yields, improve the flavor of a neighboring plant’s fruit, and more! With all of these natural benefits, the need to use pesticides or chemical fertilizers is dramatically reduced, consequently reducing the negative effects on your environment. Read more about companion gardening today!
Reduces Dangers to Beneficial Insects and Wildlife
Many chemical products used in gardens are very unhealthy, if not fatal, for many living creatures. And while a certain insecticide may kill off unwanted pests in your garden or on the plants in your landscaping, insecticides do not discriminate and they kill any insect, whether good or bad. This includes bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and all of the other insects that you actually want in your garden! The risk is similar for rabbits, squirrels, birds, deer, and any other wildlife that may be in and around your garden. And while no gardener wants to have to share their tender and delicious greens with the uninvited rabbit family, there are effective alternatives that do not cause harm to the animal and are healthier for the environment. Read more about the benefit of bees and other beneficial insects in your garden!
Naturally Fends off Unwanted Pests
As we briefly mentioned above, certain plants serve as natural pest deterrents! It is so easy just to go to the store and buy a harmful chemical to spray all over the plants in your garden to keep pests away, but how much more beneficial and satisfying is it to learn about nature and its wonders, and then be able to use that knowledge to naturally fend off unwanted insects? One example of this is marigolds. Planting these lovely annual flowers in your garden is a sustainable way to help deter bugs that will do damage to the other plants in your garden, and there are many other plants you can incorporate into your space to serve this purpose and more!
Limits Carbon Emissions
Traditional gardening often promotes the use of fertilizers and other chemicals that release toxins into the air when applied. These products also limit the soil’s ability to lock up carbon emissions, causing pollutants to be released into the air and our atmosphere. Sustainable gardening helps with this dilemma through the use of compost and mulch. These natural compounds enrich the soil, keeping it packed full of nutrients that are not only good for your plants but also help limit the amount of carbon dioxide released from the soil.
Helps Cut Back on Water Pollution
By committing to sustainable gardening, you are also committing to helping reduce water pollution. With water being our most valuable resource, it’s a wonder not more people take this into consideration when using potentially harmful chemicals that can get into the water supply and cause contamination. Sustainable gardening involves the use of organic products or materials that do not pose a threat to the water supply.
Helps Cut Back on Waste
Many gardeners that choose sustainable methods often create their own compost! Not only is composting easy, but it also can drastically help cut down on waste. If done right, compost piles are efficient enough at breaking down materials that an old pair of jeans can disappear in just a matter of weeks! And while we all might not have compost piles efficient enough to consume all of our trash, you will be amazed at the difference it makes in the amount of trash that gets thrown out weekly by simply adding your food waste to the compost bin. Not only does it help with reducing waste, but it is also a huge benefit to your garden and will help naturally reintroduce nutrients into your soil.
Better for Your Health
While you may not realize it or feel it in your day-to-day life, much of the produce we eat is treated with chemical pesticides and other products. These products are often systemic, meaning they are absorbed by the roots of a plant and exist in the leaves and fruit of the plant. And if they are not systemic, the chemicals sit on the outside of the fruit. This is very effective in protecting the plant from insects, as they will be killed by the toxins in or on the plant on their first bite. The problem here is that if these toxins can be ingested by the insects, they can surely be ingested by us as well. And while the amount of these toxins in the food we eat is not enough to kill us or even make that much of a noticeable difference in our day, it is definitely not healthy and can contribute to health issues later down the road. Organic products can be just as effective in warding off unwanted pests, while not posing a threat to your health.
Sustainable Gardening vs. Organic Gardening
Now you may be wondering, is organic gardening sustainable? The answer to this is yes! Many people are curious about the difference between sustainable gardening and organic gardening, and while organic gardening is definitely a part of employing sustainable gardening practices, it is just a small part of the bigger picture. Organic gardening focuses on methods and products that are natural (not chemical) and work with our environments instead of against them. In this way, organic gardening definitely falls in line with the goals of sustainable gardening.
How to Practice Sustainable Gardening
As we mentioned above, there are many different aspects of sustainable gardening and many different ways to put sustainable practices to use. Below is a list of a few easy ways to put sustainable practices to work in your garden and landscaping:
Embrace the power of plants and help them benefit each other as well as yourself!
Decrease your waste and enrich your soil naturally by incorporating organic matter into your garden!
Choose organic products that work with nature instead of chemical products that pose a threat to our environment.
Incorporate drought-tolerant plants into your garden and landscape for a lower-maintenance and more sustainable design.
Choosing Native Plants
Choosing plants that are native to our environment reduces problems with pests, decreases water use, requires less maintenance, and is overall more sustainable than non-native species!
Water only when necessary, use drip irrigation systems to reduce water evaporation, or collect rainwater in barrels for use in the garden!
Learn More About Sustainable Gardening
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about what it means to have a sustainable garden, we have tons of resources in our blog as well as many extremely knowledgeable employees who would love to answer all your questions. So, feel free to come into Bath Garden Center any time! As always, gardening is our passion, and we are here to help you grow better, naturally. Happy gardening everyone!