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The Sustainable Garden

Here are five tips for those who care about the environment and would like to develop their gardens with sustainability in mind.

1. Compost: Instead of throwing away food scraps and plant trimmings and buying plastic bags filled with compost, make your own. There are a number of methods, the simplest of which is to bury kitchen scraps, leaves, and trimmings from healthy plants in the garden and let the process occur naturally. You can also use a compost bin or tumbler, a worm composting system, or a bokashi composting system to speed up the process. Don’t add meat, dairy products, or oils to any system except bokashi. Burying grain products or using them in regular compost bins or tumblers is also not recommended, as they can attract pests.

2. Support wildlife: A sustainable garden is appealing to birds, bees, and other beneficial creatures. Grow a variety of native herbs, flowers, shrubs, and fruit trees. Add bee houses, bird baths, and other features. Grow flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year so that there is a constant supply of food for your wild visitors. Let weeds grow in one small area of your garden to nourish the endangered bees that pollinate your plants.

3. Use natural pest control: Instead of spraying toxic chemicals that kill everything indiscriminately, you can purchase beneficial insects such as ladybugs (which eat aphids), engage in companion planting strategies, keep plants healthy so that they’ll be less susceptible to attack, and remove pests by picking them off by hand or blasting them off with a hose.

4. Save water: There are several ways to conserve water in the garden. First, grow plants that are relatively low maintenance in terms of water requirements or, if you do grow some plants that require a lot of moisture, group them together so that only one spot in the garden requires heavy watering. You also can use mulches to retain moisture and stop weed growth (add a couple of inches of untreated wood chips, sawdust, lawn clippings, leaves, hay, shredded bark, or other suitable material on top of the soil). In addition, you can collect rain water in water barrels and use it to water your plants.

5. Grow food: Our current food system is harmful to the environment and unsustainable in the long run. Home-grown food is not only more sustainable and environmentally friendly, but also far tastier because it’s eaten fresh from the plants rather than sitting around in containers during shipping.


David Suzuki Foundation, Composting Dos and Don’ts, n.d.

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