You’ve decided to grow some of your own food–that’s great! Growing your own produce can reduce your carbon footprint, get your whole family to eat healthier, and make you more aware of where food comes from.
But not every gardening practice is as eco-friendly as you might think. Plastics, chemicals, and waste can keep you from fully reaching your green-living goals. Fortunately, there are eco-friendly alternatives for every gardener. In fact, here are a few tips on how to grow an eco-friendly garden:
Gardening requires a lot of supplies, including seeds, seedling pots, hand tools, supports for certain plants, mulch, and harvesting supplies. Items made with plastic are often the least expensive option, but better alternatives are out there.
For example, you can choose compostable seedling pots made from coconut fiber or animal manure rather than flimsy plastic pots. Actually, try to find good, sturdy tools with wood handles rather than cheap plastic ones. Use wood stakes and natural jute twine instead of plastic. Mulch your beds with organic materials like compost and straw as opposed to black plastic fabric.
And when you do need to choose plastic, make sure to find well-made products that will survive several seasons of use.
Avoid Toxic Chemicals
Garden stores and catalogs are full of products promising to make your garden productive and weed- and insect-free. It’s tempting to just buy a cheap container of fertilizer, another one of pesticide, and one of herbicide and assume your garden will thrive.
But not only do those products tend to contain chemicals which can harm the environment (and your own health), they may not even work as well as organic alternatives. Chemical fertilizers give a boost to plants but don’t build up the health of your garden’s soil. Problematic weeds and insect pests can become resistant to chemical controls, making them less effective over time.
Instead, try to feed your soil with compost (either homemade or purchased), feed your plants with a natural booster like fish or seaweed emulsion, and use organic methods to control weeds and pests. Mulching with straw is a great way to keep weeds down, and planting repellent plants like marigolds or onions among your garden beds can confuse and block insect pests.
Growing your own food might not be as eco-friendly as you think if you use way too much water or let your homegrown vegetables go to waste. A little planning can help you reduce waste in your garden.
First, before you buy seeds or seedlings, think about what you and your family really want to eat. Do some research to predict how many plants you really need (hint: zucchini plants produce a ton!). Make a plan for any extra garden bounty–get to know your local food pantry or just give it to your neighbors. And be willing to try lots of new recipes to make the most of your garden’s produce.
To avoid wasting water, drip irrigation is much more efficient than overhead sprinklers. You could also set up a few barrels to collect rainwater, and pay attention to how much water each kind of plant really needs.
With green living in mind, you can create a bountiful, enjoyable garden that really does make your life more eco-friendly. Western National Property Management supports green living of all kinds; contact us today to find out more!