Sustainable gardening

Gardening sustainably just makes sense in this fragile world of climate change and environmental damage.

Actually doing it in your own backyard does take a little effort, but more and more New Zealand gardeners are finding that every step is worth it to create a garden that not only looks after your plants and you, but also helps the whole planet. Simply put, a sustainable garden works in harmony with nature.

There are many sustainable techniques and practices that can improve the health and the output of your garden. Here are some ways to move to that more sustainable garden.

Soil fertility

• Regularly dig over soil and assess soil type
and quality.
• Always use fertilisers at correct times and applications to reduce waste. Think very carefully before you reach for the bug spray or synthetic fertiliser. So many good, sustainable alternatives exist.
• Maintain soil fertility with organic ‘green manure’ or cover crops.
• Use mulch. It can prevent up to 75% of evaporation loss, prevents run off and keeps the soil cool.

Seed/plant selection and placement

• Save seeds and winter roots to reduce money spent on new purchases.
• Ask for drought tolerant species at garden centres before selecting plants, trees and shrubs.
• Investigate ‘companion planting’ to encourage pollinator insects. A combination of edible and ornamental plants will result in the garden looking more colourful and interesting.
• Help stop the spread of environmental weeds. Find out what plants have become weeds in your area and if you have them, or they pop up, get rid of them safely.

Compost and recycling

• Establish a compost bin or worm farm.
• Retain food scraps and lawn clippings for the compost.
• Apply compost to all garden beds to increase moisture holding capacity, particularly in sandy soils.
• Shred woody material to use as mulch.

Edible gardening

• Continuously plant a small amount of in-season crops for a year-round supply.
• Bottle/dry/preserve or freeze any surplus crop for use in the off- season.
• Be vigilant in observing plants so they are harvested on time to reduce waste.

Water use

• Use ‘grey water’ to water shrubs
• Water plants deeply and less often. This encourages deep root growth and a more robust constitution.

So build your garden for the future not for fashion. Make your garden climate-friendly and water- wise

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