Thanks to busy schedules, most of us find it impossible to start new things that can improve our lives, like gardening, since they are time-consuming. In fact, the amount of cash needed to grow plants can be intimidating to some homeowners.
But with new gardening methods like self-sustaining gardening, you can offer your family fresh veggies or fruits every day without having to spend a lot of cash and time on the garden.
As the name suggests, a self-sustaining garden can take care of itself with little assistance from the gardener. And over the last few years, these gardens have become quite popular among homeowners.
That is because this type of garden can support itself as long as the soil is nutritious; plus, the seeds can be reused. Here are 6 simple ways to achieve a self-sustaining garden:
6 Self-Sustaining Gardening Tips
1. Choose the Right Crops
The whole concept behind a self-sustaining garden is planting crops that require little or no maintenance. So instead of going for just any crop, EcoPeanut recommends that you should look for the native plant species that thrive in your region.
Native plants tend to do well and require less maintenance than non-indigenous crops. They are adapted to the region’s soil composition and weather conditions; therefore, they have a low likelihood of being affected by the pests and diseases common in your area.
Compared to non-indigenous crops, native plants need fewer resources to grow. And when your plants need fewer nutrients to grow, it helps the farm remain healthy and self-sufficient.
Indigenous crops can even thrive with less water, so you won’t need a lot of water to keep them green during the dry seasons. But make sure you plant them in the right place in your garden. If they need a shade to grow, make sure they have a shade and vice versa.
2. Improve Soil Quality Naturally Through Composting
Natural soil is crucial when creating a self-sustaining garden since a productive garden will always depend on the quality of your soil.
Plus, healthy soil will produce the needed nutrients for your crops while preserving water.
Unfortunately, the chemicals in most fertilizers are harmful to the environment, especially after mixing with the water and seeping into the soil. Since the primary goal of this type of farming is protecting the environment, you should use organic matter instead of fertilizer.
You can either purchase compost and add it to the garden or prepare some compost. You can start with the waste produced in your home, like falling leaves and grass. Composting is the safest way to keep your garden fertile for a very long time.
Organic materials release the needed nutrient as it decomposes while attracting the worms needed to optimize the soil. The worms then create tunnel mazes that help drain the soil and prevent your garden from becoming waterlogged.
3. Use Cover Crops
If you have a huge farm, you can protect the soil from direct sunlight using cover crops. Some cover crops like annual rye, alfalfa, and clover enhance the production of organic matter.
Besides protecting the ground from direct sunlight, cover crops can prevent soil erosion, improve nitrogen intake in the soil, and control weeds. Fortunately, cover crops are very easy to obtain, and their seeds are affordable.
4. Conserve Water
Water is one of the world’s most precious resources. Ensuring that you’re not using a lot of water is crucial to keeping the ecosystem healthy. You can start watering your garden at dawn and dusk; instead of during the day.
This gives the plants more time to absorb the water. You can also confirm if the soil is dry by digging a small hole in the ground and confirming if the soil is dry before watering the garden.
Another effective method for conserving water is collecting rainwater. Install some barrels below the downspouts around the house and collect rainwater to use during the dry season. Remember, plants thrive when watered using rainwater because it’s not chlorinated like tap water.
5. Recycle Plastic Containers and Bottles
Plastic waste is one of the world’s leading causes of environmental damage. So instead of throwing away the plastic container, you can recycle them in the garden. You can either convert them into watering cans or use the old containers to raise seedlings. You can also create plant protectors and place them around new growth or vulnerable plants to protect them from direct sunlight and wind.
Another solution for the used plastic containers in your home is converting them into planters. This will create more farming space in your otherwise small garden.
6. Avoid Herbicides and Pesticides
Most herbicides and pesticides are made using harmful chemicals that can affect the environment. Instead of using these harmful chemicals to sustain your garden, use natural and safe methods to deal with pest infestation or control the spread of weeds in your garden. One of the best solutions for weeds is mulching and planting cover crops.
On the other hand, native plants are rarely affected by local pests, but you can try and deal with the problem using natural means when this occurs.
You can also try and attract some helpful insects like ladybugs to deal with an aphid infestation. Or create a home remedy to take care of the pests. For example, a mixture of vinegar and water to take care of ants.
Self-sustaining gardening is one of the best ways to protect the environment. Other than ensuring that you have a fresh supply of veggies at your disposal every day, a self-sustaining garden can help you lower your carbon footprint.
That’s because you will not be using herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides. And since organic matter takes a very long time to decompose fully, your garden will remain fertile for a very long time.
With the measures above, you won’t have to spend entire afternoons in the garden. Using less water and no chemical fertilizer can also help you save some cash.