NO QUESTION. WHEN IT COMES TO SUSTAINABLE, environmentally-friendly hobbies, fruit and vegetable gardening is high on the list. Still, there are painless methods to make it even more “green” and limit your expenses at the same time. Here are seven easy, eco-friendly ideas to green your garden, bank more money and have more fun in the process.
1. Select plants that naturally thrive in your environment. Before you plant, consider the amount of sun, water and soil pH that your selected varieties will require. You can reduce the amount of soil amendments and water needed — and the associated environmental impact — by selecting varieties that readily adapt to your un-amended garden. Plants that naturally thrive in one location are eco-hogs in another.
2. Invest in perennials. In edible gardening, you consume most of the resources when you first put plants in the ground. Once fruit and vegetable plants have had a chance to establish their roots, they are nearly self sustaining. Perennials may take more investment up front in terms of water, soil amendments and cost, but over time they consume far less and pay back more.
3. Feed your plants with homegrown compost. Everyone already knows that compost is great for your garden, but it can also be environmentally- and wallet-friendly. Besides reducing your garden’s need for soil amendments and the associated fossil fuels to transport them, it also reduces the amount of packaging you consume. But maybe the most important green benefit of composting is sending fewer yard trimmings and food scraps to the dump. According to the U.S. EPA, yard trimmings and food scarps make up 27.8% of the municipal solid waste stream.
4. Start seedlings outside instead of under the lights. If weather permits or if you have a greenhouse, hoop house, cold frame or some other method for protecting seedlings from the cold, it’s less resource intensive to grow them without lights.
5. Harvest rain from your roof using a rain barrel. It’ll save you money on your water bill and the non-chlorinated water is better for your plants. Plus it reduces excess run off that might otherwise erode soil and pollute brooks and streams.
6. Mulch your garden with materials you don’t have to buy. Mulching reduces water consumption and weeding. I use black and white newspaper covered with mulched leaves. Newspaper and leaves are both “naturally occurring,” free resources at my house, so there’s no fossil fuel consumed to transport them to my garden.
7. Avoid using peat moss, which is often unsustainably harvested. Coir, which is made from coconut, can replace peat in seed starting mix. You can buy it in brick form at your pet store at a reasonable price. Compost makes a great replacement for peat for adding organic material to the soil. Homemade newspaper pots are as good as peat pots when starting seeds.
What eco-friendly gardening methods do you use? Let us know in the comment section below.
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