With all the plastic we use, the oceans we pollute, and the trees we cut down, it is apparent that we often overlook the fact that the Earth is our one and only home. It also manifests in how worse our environmental problems have gotten through the years. There’s no denying that all of us play a role in this, so the question is: what are the things that you do to help our living planet?
As gardeners, we must make a conscious choice to not just plant for free veggies or a beautiful landscape. Plant with the planet’s well-being in mind too.
In line with this, here are tips and ideas for SUSTAINABLE GARDENING to keep your plants nurtured, your family nourished, and the environment a little bit better—one sustainable habit at a time.
- Conserve water
Water is a precious resource that we must not waste. In one of our previous blogs, we discussed rainwater harvesting, the act of storing rainwater for usage on sunny days. However, that’s not all. There are many different techniques on how to conserve water for gardening purposes.
One of these is mulching, which refers to the process of covering the garden soil with biodegradable (or non-biodegradable, but of course, we wouldn’t want that) material, such as straw, shredded bark, grass clippings, sawdust, and other organic residues. Aside from retaining soil moisture, it also prevents erosion, suppresses weeds, and even adds aesthetic value, among other things.
Another is by recycling your household water. For instance, if you’re boiling vegetables, save the used water instead of just pouring it down the drain. The same goes for the water that gets wasted while waiting for the shower to heat up. Also, take it up a notch and use your old fish tank water as a nitrogen-and-phosphorus-rich treat for your plants!
As follows are other techniques, discussed more briefly:
- Opt for plants that don’t require too much water. Some examples are succulents, bougainvillea, and lavender.
- Frequently check your hose for leaks.
- Choose permeable soil to control surface runoff.
- Keep plants spaced close together to aid in shading soil and preventing water from quickly evaporating.
- Use pots that don’t quickly lose water to reduce the number of watering in a day.
- Create a rain garden using plants like Cogon Grass, Native Rosemary, and Mat Rush.
- Be wildlife-friendly
Plants aside, you might also want to consider turning your garden into one that benefits wildlife. A study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the USA has found that embracing the concept of wildlife gardening on a larger scale can help boost biodiversity. Moreover, being wildlife-friendly also attracts pollinators, such as bees, ants, and birds, the unsung heroes of sustaining the modern food system.
A wildlife-friendly habitat requires four vital elements: food, water, cover, and a space for raising young. Here are some ways to achieve it:
- Make a DIY bird feeder using recycled plastic bottles and fill it with seeds, fruits, or commercial pet food. Note that you should only be serving them snacks, not full meals, so there’s no need to put too much.
- Grow a variety of native flowers that would appeal to and provide food for insects.
- Add a water source, like a rain garden or a birdbath.
- Create a shelter for insects by simply leaving rocks and twigs in a designated area in your garden.
- Skip cleaning your garden and mowing the grass every once in a while, as weeds provide both food and shelter for a multitude of creatures.
- Install nesting boxes for birds to raise their hatchlings.
- Practice composting
Composting is the process of decomposing organic matter to add to your plants. It has a myriad of benefits, such as enriching the soil and improving plant quality without the need for chemical fertilisers, reducing methane emissions from landfills, and recycling waste from the yard and kitchen.
Some greens and browns that are ideal for composting are the following:
- Crushed eggshells
- Shredded cardboard
- Shredded paper (non-glossy and non-coloured)
- Table scraps
- Clean sawdust (no oil residues)
- Tea leaves
- Hair and fur
Furthermore, avoid composting pet wastes, diseased plants, bread, meat and dairy products, as well as citrus peels, among others. These may be too acidic, contain harmful microorganisms, or attract pests and rodents.
PRO TIP: Negotiate with neighbours, grocery stores, hairdressers, and other establishments to collect their compostable items.
- Grow native plants
By choosing native plants and trees as additions to your garden, you are helping animal species thrive by providing them with a source of food and shelter. Moreover, native plants are low-maintenance and relatively easy to sustain as they are already well accustomed to your region’s conditions. Thus, they don’t need to be watered and fertilised as much as other plants. Listed below are some native Australian plants that would be perfect for your garden:
- Golden Wattle – recognised as the national flower, not only does this serve as birds’ food and shelter, but it also attracts bees with its pollen-rich flowers.
- Spotted Emu Bush – this shrub loves the sunshine, is drought tolerant, and requires little to no maintenance.
- Cordyline – a perennial plant that only requires minimal watering yet instantly adds appeal to your garden.
- Correa – endemic to Australia, this species is easy to grow and has flowers rich in nectar.
Aside from the benefits that sustainability has to offer to our environment, opting for such a lifestyle also helps us conserve our resources and ultimately lessen our gardening expenses. Check out our Gardening on a Budget blog for more sustainable practices that also help save a few bucks.
Let us take part in the “green movement” to help battle the climate crisis together.