At Vego Garden, we strive for eco-friendly and sustainable initiatives. Whether it's reducing deforestation or food waste, avoiding polluting chemicals, and preserving natural resources, our aim is to help make a sustainable lifestyle more accessible to everyone. Sustainable gardening is a great way to help kids appreciate the beauty of the natural world and the importance of conservation practices.
By planting your own crops using organic methods, you are already taking steps in living a sustainable lifestyle. However, you can always benefit from following sustainable gardening practices that will not only help the planet, but will also help you save money. Even though it may not seem much on a large scale, every action and effort are appreciated. Below are some creative sustainable spring gardening tips you can utilize in your garden to promote a healthy and productive environment.
1. Reusing and Recycling Materials in the Garden
Reusing and recycling materials is a great way to save money while also helping the environment. Many gardeners chose to start seeds indoors before transplanting them outside to get an early start on their gardening. Using egg cartons for seed starting is a cheap way to repurpose old egg cartons and save money by avoiding plastic trays. As the seedlings grow, the cardboard will disintegrate into the ground.
Simply collect egg cartoons and fill them with seed-starting mix, making sure to poke holes at the bottom to ensure proper drainage. Window frames, which can be found in antique and junk shops, can be used as row covers. Old planks of wood can also be used to create posts. Make sure to use untreated wood, as treated wood can contain chemicals that prohibit plant growth or leech into the soil.
2. Try the Hugelkultur method
Once you have assembled your Vego organic gardening raised beds, the next task is filling the raised garden beds before planting. High quality garden soil can be expensive, leading many gardeners to seek an alternative, lower cost method instead. From our experience, the Hugelkultur method is the easiest and most cost-efficient method to use. Of German origin, hugelkultur translates to “mound or hill culture” and is the process of layering organic garden waste and soil inside the raised garden bed so that it resembles a mound. In addition to attracting and preserving moisture, it also enriches the soil with nutrients. It is especially applicable in areas where soil retention and drainage are poor, which is typical in soils found in urban areas. See this article for more details on the Hugelkultur method.
3. Try Vermicomposting
Food waste is a serious problem, with as much as 40% of the food supply being wasted. Instead of throwing food scraps, organic byproducts, and leftover vegetables into the trash, you can place them in your worm compost bin. Organic matter rotting in landfills decomposes slower, wasting nutrient products and generating methane, a potent greenhouse gas. By diverting the waste through vermicomposting, the amount of household trash and waste rotting in landfills will be reduced, which will lower greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
Vego Garden’s In-Ground Worm Composter is an ideal solution for beginners who seek to create compost efficiently with minimal maintenance. Designed to be installed inside existing Vego Garden beds, our product harnesses the power of worms to break down organic waste into nutrient-rich compost. Unlike above ground systems, it is odorless and hassle-free. The holes in the composter allow worms to move freely in and out of the bin to spread worm castings, which will enrich the soil. Red worms, the most efficient type in consuming food waste, can be purchased online from reputable vendors or at a worm farm.
4. Choose Native Plants
As the weather warms up, many gardeners are deciding what plants to grow in their garden. When choosing which plants to grow, you should consider purchasing native plant varieties, including trees, shrubs, flowers, and ornamental grasses. Indigenous to the area, they are not only suited to the climate and low-maintenance, but they also attract beneficial wildlife to the garden by providing food and shelter.
Since they are compatible with local environmental conditions, you do not need to worry about the soil quality, fertilizer, or watering consistency as much. They also help reduce air pollution and act as erosion controls. In areas where water is scarce, choose drought tolerant plants to minimize watering. A butterfly garden consisting of native flowers is a popular way to attract butterflies and other pollinators to your garden.
5. Reduce Chemical Usage
When growing crops, you may encounter the occasional pest. The ideal way to get rid of them is through organic controls, as fertilizers and pesticides can be damaging to the environment and can kill beneficial insects as well. There are many effective and toxic-less methods available that you should utilize when dealing with a pest infestation. Common methods in dealing with pests include diatomaceous earth, neem oil, and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Avoid pest problems by rotating crops, attracting beneficial insects, and planting pest-repellent companion plants.
6. Use Companion Planting
Companion planting, the practice of planting different crops in close proximity, can help you maximize the efficiency of your garden. Some common advantages of companion planting include shade regulation, pest deterrence, improved plant health and yield, and soil suppression. For example, dill and parsley planted among tomatoes will improve plant growth and flavor as well as repel pests. You can also plant flowers next to your vegetables for an aesthetic color arrangement. Before starting to plant, it is useful to plan your garden layout and research which companion plants you can include.
7. Conserve Water
Many people will just use a lawn sprinkler system, which is inefficient. This wastes water and often causes problems related to fungal diseases. If you are planning on building only a few raised garden beds, a soaker hose is a good alternative if an irrigation system is too expensive. You can also consider installing a drip irrigation system, which will deliver water to the root level and uses less water than other irrigation techniques. Harvesting rainwater and applying organic mulch are also great ways to conserve water in your garden.
8. Use Organic Fertilizer
While inorganic or synthetic fertilizer is cheaper and promotes rapid plant growth, organic fertilizer is better in the long term for your garden. Organic fertilizers are natural, composed of plant or animal-based materials. Synthetic fertilizers can cause leaching, chemical imbalances caused by salt build-up, and disruption to aquatic ecosystems. The benefits of using organic fertilizer include enhancing the soil structure, reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers, and improving crop quality.
9. Save Seeds
From heirloom seeds to ordinary crops, seed saving is an easy way for gardeners to be sustainable. Tomatoes, peppers, beans and peas are popular choices for seed-saving. First, harvest the seeds, then wash and dry them. Finally, store the seeds in a dry, cool place.
10. Avoid Using Peat
Peat is derived from decaying vegetation that takes hundreds to even thousands of years to form, and harvesting it causes irreversible damage to peatland ecosystems and endangers wildlife. Since peatlands contain a vast amount of carbon, harvesting peat releases harmful greenhouse gasses into the air. Peat moss, a common soil amendment, is peat mainly created from sphagnum moss and is found on the top of peat bogs. Alternatives to peat include wood-based materials, coconut noir, and compost.