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Sustainable Gardening is About Making Responsible Choices

Sustainable Gardening is About Making Responsible Choices

The word “sustainable” is one of those buzz words currently being attached to everything from clothing, to energy, to coffee, and yes, even gardening. So what does sustainable gardening really mean?

According to Chris McLaughlin of Fine Gardening, “Sustainable gardening is a term that has no technical definition. It’s the concept of using gardening practices that cause no harm to the earth and its inhabitants while attempting to actually enhance it.”

How Important is Sustainable Gardening to Growers?

But just how important is sustainable gardening to your average grower – especially those new to gardening?

According to a recent study by horticulturalists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) – very.

“More and more people are supporting sustainability, where the social, environmental and economic factors balance,” said Mark Tancig, a horticulture agent with University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension. “That means planting things that don’t require as much water or fertilizer. Using plants that resist disease and insects. Choosing native plants in mixtures that attract wildlife. They’re restorative to the environment.”

Sustainable gardening is all about making responsible choices, not just for ourselves but for everyone living in our global environment.

It requires that we all “look at our garden and ask what we can do to reduce carbon imprint, reduce irrigation and use less products,” says Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturist emeritus with Oregon State University Extension.

Areas of Focus for Gardeners Focusing on Sustainability

Some areas to focus on include:

Yard debris
Compost instead of throwing away lawn clippings, dead plants and leaves (that are not stricken with disease) in order to restore hearty nutrients back into the soil.

Irrigation practices
Shift from standard sprinklers to drip or soaker hoses, which water more efficiently due to the lack of overspray and can decrease usage by as much as 80%.

McLaughlin recommends an integrated pest management approach. “The idea here is starting with the least toxic remedy to a potentially bad situation then moving up in terms of remedies from there. For the most part, IPM relies on the gardener or farmer to monitor and gather information. This technique is not only easy – it’s extremely effective.”

These are some of the ideas behind sustainable gardening. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon one or more practices altogether. It just asks that you look at your choices in order to see how a few intentional changes here and there can be more “restorative to the environment”.

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