What Is Sustainable Gardening?

The meaning of sustainable gardening often confuses people, who do not have a garden. They think that when a person has a sustainable garden it means that they grow enough food to sustain them and their family throughout the year, without relying on grocery store items. I can somewhat understand their confusion because according to Webster.com the word sustain means to supply with substance or nourish. This same meaning can apply to sustainable gardens. Certain factors and elements supply substance and nourishment to a garden in order for it to survive, with little effort provided from a gardener.

Sustainable gardens rely on things such as soil, fertilizer, water, and pesticides to produce and maintain healthy plants and vegetables. When a gardener has a perfect balance of these factors, very little work is needed to maintain the garden.

Poor producing vegetable and other garden plants can be attributed to poor soil. An unbalanced pH level, too many weeds, poor drainage, and nutrient deficient soil not only leads to plant problems but also will cause the gardener a lot of work just trying to keep the plants healthy. A gardener should have their garden soil tested each year and add soil amendments as needed to rectify the pH balance in the soil and nutrient content. Adding organic rich compost will also help to enrich the soil.

No one likes to pull weeds, so keep them at a minimum by using weed barriers such as mulch or plastic. Consider planting in raised beds with graveled walkways. Mulch will help prevent water runoff and acts as a barrier to water evaporation. It also helps to keep the soil temperature from fluctuating, reducing the chances of rot damage. Over time, mulch will break down and added valuable nutrients to the soil. Fewer weeds will help eliminate pests, reducing the need for the use of pesticides. Plants will not have to compete with weeds for water if there are fewer weeds.

Although having an adequate supply of water is an important requirement for a sustainable garden, water drainage must also be considered. Water saturation is an easy and quick way to kill healthy, producing plants.

Healthy soil and weed elimination are great ways to keep pests at bay. Another easy fix for unwanted bugs is companion planting. Many bugs are naturally repelled by specific plants. Doing a little research to find out which plants repel which bugs and then planting those plants can save a gardener time and money, as well as having chemical free produce.