5 Tips To Grow Food Sustainably in Your Garden

Learning how to grow food sustainably in your garden is one of the best things you can do to help in the fight against climate change and reduce your negative impact on our planet. If you are new to growing your own then these five tips should help you set out in the right direction, and start your garden as you mean to continue:

5/21/20243 min read

1. Know Your Site

All good gardens begin with a thorough understanding of place. Observation is key. Take some time, up front, to make sure you understand your climate zone, and the microclimate in your particular garden. Look at sunlight and shade, wind and water, the soil where you live, and the plants already present there.

Think about the space, its strengths and its limitations. Consider natural resources on the site. If you get to know your site well before you begin, you are far more likely to make the right choices. And to meet with success as the seasons progress.

2. Choose the Right Plants for the Right Places

Different plants have different growing requirements. Whenever you choose seeds or plants for your garden, you need to think about the environmental conditions first – and find plants to match them.

When we choose the right plants for the right places, we not only consider environmental conditions, however. You should also think about which plants are suited to you and your family's needs and wishes. Think about what you actually like to eat.

Remember that different plants have different lifecycles .Deciding whether you would prefer to focus on annuals and biennials or perennials is one other important factor. It will help you work out which growing method or methods are right for you. And how to lay out your new garden.

Annual and biennial crops might be grown in in-ground growing areas, raised beds, or containers. These are the plants most frequently chosen when people grow their own at home. But it is also well worthwhile considering incorporating perennials in an edible border, or a forest garden which is a scheme with productive trees, fruit bushes and fruiting canes, and a range of perennial herbs, vegetables and flowers. Think about how well plants work together, in companion planting, as part of the ecosystem as a whole, as well as how well each works on its own.

3. Work With Nature

When you grow food sustainably, you should always garden organically. Gardening organically of course means avoiding harmful pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers. More than this, however, organic gardening also involves taking a holistic approach. And working with nature to achieve your goals.

Working with nature involves looking at natures cycles – the water cycle, the carbon cycle, and the nitrogen cycle, for example. And working out how you can keep those cycles turning through your plant choices and gardening efforts.

Working with nature rather than fighting it also involves boosting biodiversity in your garden as much as possible. You should include as many different plants as possible, and welcome and nurture the beneficial insects and other wildlife that shares your space.

4. Protect the Soil and Maintain Fertility

The plants growing in your garden depend on healthy soil. To protect the soil and maintain fertility in your garden over time, it is a good idea to take a 'no dig gardening' approach. This means taking steps to avoid bare soil, and to disrupt the soil ecosystem as little as possible.

In a no dig garden, new beds are not created by digging or tilling. Instead, layers of organic materials are built up on the soil. These will slowly compost in place, releasing fertility back into the soil and improving soil structure. Organic mulches laid between crops over time will continue to maintain fertility levels and protect the soil over time.

As well as composting in place when creating new beds and mulching, creating a separate composting system is also essential. If you do not already compost at home, set up a system right away – before you even think about sowing any seeds.

5. Manage Water Wisely in Your Garden

Another important thing to think about before you begin is water. Think about how you catch, store and manage the flow of natural water on your property. Wherever possible, set up a rainwater catchment system to provide water to irrigate your garden.

There is, of course, more to think about. But considering the above should help you build a firm foundation to grow food sustainably in your garden.

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