All About Sustainable Gardening

Sustainability maintains ecological balance through utilizing natural resources without damaging the environment. Sustainable gardening applies the theory to growing fruits, vegetables, livestock feed crops and flowers. The purpose is to create a low maintenance garden that produces high quality plants without using supplements that harm the environment with chemical pesticides and rotating crops to keep the soil productive year after year. A properly planted and maintained sustainable garden may have some weeds or a few plants with leaves munched by insects but still yields healthy crops. Sustainable gardens thrive without compromising the quality of the soil and ground water, threatening the destruction of valuable insects or rendering them immune to natural pesticides.

Sustainable gardening techniques apply to backyard gardens or commercially grown crops. Start by having the soil tested at a local university extension that specializes in agricultural analysis or an environmental government agency to determine the nutrient ratios, organic composition and pH levels. Correct any deficiencies with organic soil additives or fertilizers. Research plants and select ones with natural resistance to the most prevalent diseases and pests in the area to decrease or eliminate the need for pesticides.

Develop plans to preserve natural resources. Create a compost area in the yard and use the waste from your lawn and plants to make your own mulch, which replenishes the soil with its natural nutrients, keeps the ground moist, deters erosion and lessens the organic waste deposited in landfills. Use buckets and bins to collect rainwater for irrigation and minimize household water usage. Regularly pull small weeds from the garden before they grow large enough to require removal with pesticides or herbicides.

Sustainable gardens may seem like an innovative concept but they have been around since World War I began in 1914 and were known as victory gardens. Almost 40 percent of the vegetables eaten in the United States during World War I grew in victory gardens and the crops fed troops so cash went to other military concerns. That percentage may take years to attain in today’s society but it’s a lofty goal without discernible drawbacks. If you decide to grow a sustainable garden, keep track of the energy savings attained through resource recycling and have the soil tested each year to ensure the replenishments of nutrients through each growing season.

Create an Environmentally Friendly Garden . The National Wildlife Federation guidelines to sustainable gardening including tips on plants, irrigation and garden maintenance applicable to large and small gardens cultivated in a wide range of environmental conditions.

A Do-It-Yourself Sustainable Garden . A simple plan from the Chicago Botanic Garden on how to convert a traditional home garden into a sustainable one with minimal cost, effort and gardening expertise.

University Strives for Self-Sufficient Food Production . Read the upbeat story of how students at Maharishi University of Management built a successful sustainable garden. Learn how combined efforts of the faculty and student body raised sustainable crops and what they learned from the experience.

WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources. A guide to choosing garden plants that fit your budget and integrating environmentally friendly sustainable gardening processes into your home or commercial garden. The site includes information on college courses on small farms, organic agriculture and farming and gardening seminars.

Sustainable Gardening Checklist . A primer on how to plan and implement a simple sustainable garden compiled by Washington State University Jefferson County Extension. Links include information on garden tours, gardening classes and lectures on sustainable gardening.

Sustainable Gardening Concepts . Find tips on West Coast sustainable gardens plus links to valuable resource at this website sponsored by one of the country’s leading agricultural universities, the University of California at Davis.

Cover Crops for Home Gardens in Western Washington and Oregon. The Washington State University extension experts explain choosing the kinds of cover crops appropriate for different geographic regions and how to make them thrive.

Lake-Friendly Gardening. Explore ideas for water recycling, sustainable irrigation techniques and natural pest control presented by the Lake Whatcom Management Program and Washington State University. Unique links provide information on lakescaping, passive-aggressive plants and the ten most unwelcome garden pests.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) . Control garden pests with organic pesticides combined with mechanical, sanitation and biological solutions. Learn ways to create and integrate each management solution into your pest control plan.

Plant Disease and Insect Identification Pests Leaflet Series . Download a wide range of leaflets full of information on identifying plant diseases and invasive insects and how to naturally eradicate them with herbicides. The files are printable for future reference.