Sustainable gardening is not without its challenges, including garden pests, droughts, and unexpected weather. However, there are plenty of ecological gardening solutions available to solve these problems without sacrificing the purity of the outdoor sanctuary. Companion planting, natural fertilizers, natural pest control, mulching, and sustainable garden weeding are just a few of the sustainable gardening ideas that can help gardeners maintain a healthy and thriving garden.
Companion planting is the practice of interplanting different plants with known benefits to each other and avoiding those with adverse interactions. This sustainable gardening technique allows gardens and beneficial bugs like ladybugs to thrive without the use of harsh chemicals or industrial practices. For example, a border of marigolds around garden beds can deter deer and provide a landing pad for beneficial insects. If an overzealous aphid family is intent on ruining cabbage, planting a trap crop of nasturtiums can keep them safe.
Synthetic fertilizers are known to possess required nutrients in excess, mixed with a laundry list of harmful chemicals. These chemicals slowly leach into gardens and water supplies, causing harm to wildlife and ecosystems. Instead, natural fertilizers that rely purely on plant, animal, and mineral sources for their nutrients can be used. Composting is the single most effective eco-friendly gardening tool, allowing food waste to be recycled into the food system by breaking down animal manure, kitchen scraps, yard waste, and even weeds to create humus, a soil blend full of nutrients that feeds plants and maintains healthy soil. Other natural fertilizers include bone meal, alfalfa meal, kelp, fishmeal, and feather meal.
Synthetic pesticides are used to kill garden pests, but they have been linked to adverse effects on wildlife, bee, bird, and insect populations. Even at the top of the food chain, synthetic pesticides pose dangers to human health within the reproductive, immune, endocrine, and central nervous systems. To garden sustainably, natural solutions like diatomaceous earth, garlic, eucalyptus oil, cayenne pepper, and citrus oil can be used for pest control. Netting can be used to keep non-creepy-crawly pests like birds and deer from stealing soil instead of using chemical sprays and soaps.
Mulching is used primarily to retain water and reduce weeds. Natural mulch, like lawn clippings, that breaks down and feeds the soil is best. Hand weeding frequently can reduce the overwhelm of the space. Sustainable living gardens are alive, and eco gardening techniques and regenerative practices prevent as much soil disturbance as possible. Cut-and-come-again lettuce varieties can produce several cuttings, and interplanting radish or onions can feed the soil microbiome as the lettuce base and roots break down. Saving seeds is sustainable horticulture at its core, guaranteeing organic, heirloom seeds for next year without needing to purchase. After a busy gardening season, the best sustainable gardening practice is to cover compost-filled beds with a heavy mulch and allow them to rest, break down, and prepare for next year’s plans. Insect larvae are still sleeping there after wintering over in the soil, and they should remain undisturbed until the soil is warm enough to plant in.