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Sustainable Gardening
Gardening sustainably just makes sense in this fragile world of climate change and environmental damage. Actually doing it in your own backyard takes a little effort, more and more gardeners are finding that every step is worth it to create a sustainable garden that not only looks after your plants, and you, but also helps the whole planet
Here are a few tips to create your sustainable garden:


Conserve water resources
Water is precious. It needs to be protected for quality as well as preserved. The goal is to use only the water nature provides so utilise rain barrels and collection systems to provide water not taken from the dwindling municipal resources. Use direct water methods — a watering can — or some form of drip or direct irrigation to cut down on evaporation loss. Do not use herbicides or pesticides that might contaminate it as it percolates through the soil and heads back to the water supply. Control runoff with permeable soils.


Grow native, climate-appropriate plants
Nature has designed the perfect plant for your micro-climate: the one that is native to your area. Check natural areas and local garden experts for plants that thrive in your conditions. Find plants that, depending on your conditions, tolerate drought, or high rainfall and seasonal flooding. When growing vegetables, choose plants that mature during your area’s growing season. Making sure vegetables are hardy and high-yielding inside all your area’s climatic, prevailing soil and elevation conditions means you use less soil additives and supplements, less water and less overall effort to see them succeed.


Save Seed
Seed saving brings you more in-tune with your plants and assures that the seed you’ll plant next season has done well this season. Start with the easiest seeds to save: peas, beans, peppers, tomatoes and work from there. Harvest flower seed taken from dried flowers. Few experiences are as gratifying as watching seed you grew, harvested and cured, sprout the following season.


Garden Design
Consider where plants are placed. Shade-loving plants are placed in the shadow of tall sun-loving plants, sun-loving plants are planted in places with the best exposure to light. Water-loving plants are grown where moisture collects, trailing plants are grown over terraces. Companion planting is an easy way to control pests and encourage growth. The more knowledge one has about plants and gardening, the better one’s landscape design.


Maintenance Techniques
How you care for your garden goes a long way towards the attaining sustainability. Age-old practices like cultivating between plants with a hoe not only suppresses weeds but aerates your soil. Avoid using chemical herbicides and pesticides that extract a toll on the environment and you. Instead follow organic weed and pest control methods. There’s both health and knowledge benefits to getting down on your knees and pulling weeds. Using beneficial insects to control pests not only benefits your garden, it can become a valuable lesson in natural science for your children.


And at last...
These principles, taken together, encompass uncountable methods and techniques that move gardeners that much closer to sustainability. Increase what you know about plants, soil and resource conservation. The greatest tool you can use to pursue the goal of sustainability is knowledge. And the largest effect you can have on sustainability is to share that knowledge. That’s a big part of making gardens and landscapes sustainable: passing on what you know.

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