Eco Gardening Tips for Beginners
Posted on 06 April 2020
Life is strange right now to stay the least, and most of us are spending much more time at home than we’re used to. If you are looking for a satisfying hobby to occupy your time and regain a sense of normalcy, you’ll love Eco Gardening.
Eco Gardening means gardening sustainably, and considering how living things in our garden like the soil, plants, and water all interact in nature. Gardening is a wonderful way to connect to our food! Buying a tomato at the grocery store is worlds apart from planting a tomato seed, nurturing it, and finally getting a taste of your juicy harvest.
Tips to get started:
Make a Plan
The hardest part is starting! Prepare yourself before you run out to the garden store. Design your layout and research which food grows best in your area. Every garden is different, with everything from spacing to the type of food you want to grow. Strong plants are less likely to die from diseases or pests, so always grow a plant that suits your site and soil. Also, choose naturally disease resistant varieties whenever possible.
Once you have a rough idea of what you want in your garden, consider incorporating the following:
Companion Planting is a great way to use nature to our advantage. In this method, crops that benefit each other are planted close together.
Companion plants can offer:
- Pest control
- Habitat for beneficial insects
- Maximize use of space
- Increase crop productivity
For example, basil and tomatoes are an ideal companion plant duo. The basil helps the tomatoes produce greater yields while also repelling flies and mosquitos. Not to mention that they taste great together!
Another aspect to consider when companion planting is which of your crops should be kept far apart. Cucumbers, for example, should not be planted near aromatic herbs like sage because they stunt cucumber growth.
Another way to take advantage of your garden space is Interplanting.
Also known as intercropping, interplanting makes the most of your garden capacity by planting faster growing crops between slower growing ones. This minimizes area for weeds to grow, and can actually boost the health of your entire garden! Interplanting enhances soil fertility and cooperation between different plants.
Types of Interplanting:
- Row Planting - Use at least two different types of vegetables with at least one of them in a row.
- Mixed intercropping - Mix crops in any available space without rows, such as 2 different sized plants.
- Relay Planting - After harvesting a first round of crops, sow a second using mature plants for quick yields.
Be sure to consider the growth requirements of your crops when interplanting to have the best success!
Once you have the tools to plan a successful harvest, it’s time to put the Eco in Eco Garden! Water conservation is key, so install a water catcher, or butt, on every downpipe. Reducing your water usage for irrigation is another way to conserve. Avoid using a sprinkler on the garden – water the roots of plants without wasting it on the leaves, and buy large pots for plants as they don’t dry out as quickly.
A key element in Eco Gardening is going organic. You can plan your garden with emphasis on organic practices by avoiding chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Instead, focus on using non-GMO seeds and organic compost and mulch.
Organic farming practices
- Reduce pollution
- Conserve water
- Reduce soil erosion
- Increase soil fertility
- Use less energy
Composting is the use of decomposed organic matter that is rich in nutrients and microorganisms to condition your soil. To make the process more cost-effective also use food scraps from your kitchen, without any meat or fish. Composting can divert up to 30% of household waste away from the trash can!
- Good for the environment
- Reduces landfill waste
- Introduces beneficial organisms to the earth
Pro-tip: For the best compost, maintain a balance of materials containing nitrogen and carbon. Ex.) Fruit and vegetable scraps are nitrogen-rich, while leaves and pine needles are carbon-rich.
With all of the fear and anxiety happening at the moment, gardening is a great way to take care of your mental health. It provides a space of tranquility and healing, where you can get away and focus on the task at hand. This leads to measurable psychological, physiological, and behavioral benefits, such as reduced anxiety, sadness, and other negative moods, lower blood pressure and improved immune functioning.
Whether you have tried out gardening before or you’re starting something new, just have fun with it and enjoy the process! We hope that this guide has been helpful, and we wish you all health and happiness during these challenging times.