Sunday, March 28, 2010

What Is Sustainable Gardening?

My grandson is definitely a future gardener. A chemical-free garden is a safe place for children. Without chemical pesticides and fertilizers you can still get a bountiful harvest.

Most people are familiar with the term “organic gardening” but what about “sustainable gardening?” I like to think of sustainable gardening as “adding to” the earth, rather than “taking away” from it. This means my garden sustains itself as much as possible. In celebration of Earth Day, April 22, 2010, Jan at ThanksFor2Day has challenged garden bloggers to think about how we are contributing to a greener world. Click on "Garden Bloggers Sustainable Living Project" in the sidebar for more information about Earth Day, Jan’s project, and how you can qualify for some great “green” giveaways!

Here are six ways I practice sustainable gardening:

    1.     Making Compost

I have several compost bins in my garden and plan on adding a new one this year. I would like one of those with a handle for tumbling the compost. (Can any of you recommend this method?) It just seems easier to me. I make lasagna gardens using layers of newspaper and organic matter. I am fortunate in having a mini horse, named Dude, who produces great compost!

Many of my gardens are lasagna gardens, made by layering newspaper and organic materials.

      2.     Limiting Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers

Using compost means I need less chemicals. I also use seaweed or kelp as a fertilizer to feed the earth and encourage a natural rate of plant growth. I cover weeds with cardboard or newspaper instead of applying herbicides.

      3.     Increasing Water Retention

Mulching is a great way of helping the soil retain water. I use Canadian cedar mulch. I collect rain water in barrels: from gutters on the barn and tractor shed. We have three barrels so far, and HH is adding another this year.

The Tractor-Shed Water Barrel

     4.     Reducing the Lawn Area

Lawns use more water and fossil fuels to maintain than any other planting. We still have far too much lawn area, but I’m working on it!

     5.     Encouraging Pest Predators

Ladybugs are great predators for getting rid of aphids. I promised my grandchildren we would release ladybugs and praying mantis this year. (Must remember to order them soon.)

     6.     Removing Invasive Plants.

The multiflora rose is pretty in the spring, but kills all in it’s path. (You have seen this picture before,
but it is worth repeating -- there is a tree under there!)

      7. Restoring Native Plant Communities.

In a previous post I described how removing multiflora rose, and other invasives, is an annual task here. Native plants generally require less fertilizer and other additives. They encourage native wildlife such as pollinators. Invasives can upset the delicate balance of a local ecosystem and even make some native plants extinct.

Sweet autumn clematis and sweetshrub are some favorite native plants.

Practicing sustainable gardening is one of life’s challenges. It is a challenge that makes me extremely happy! Jo of The Good Life kindly gave me an award, the Happiness Award. Click on the award in the sidebar to visit Jo’s wonderful blog.

The following also make me happy:
    1.      Teaching my grandchildren how to take care of the earth.
    2.      Sharing my experiences with like-minded gardeners through blogging.
    3.      Discovering the first spring flower.
    4.     Simply spending the whole day out in the garden!

Your  blogs always make me happy! And, incidentally, I believe you all practice sustainable gardening in one way or another.~~

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!


  1. Hi, Pam,
    I'm glad to see you are back. Love the tots in your photos.

    I'm amused at the term 'sustainable gardening' as I was in the 1960's when Mama decided to become an 'organic gardener.' She bought a book, read it and sniffed, 'Why that's what we've been doing all my life!'

    'Compost from the barn' was her mainstay.

  2. Hi, NellJean, How lovely you found my new blog even before I have it on Blotanical. I have been posting regularly on my old blog ( but the links are so bad I decided to switch to blogspot. Do you like the way this one looks? Pam

  3. Pam, what a wonderful site. I have long dreamed of having my own English Cottage Garden. Your tips are great and I will visit often. Peace, Mary

  4. Mary Grace - I am so glad you found my site and look forward to seeing you here again. Happy spring. Pam

  5. Great ideas for being sustainable. Love the little horse, who looks well loved himself in the photo. I haven't done the lasagna gardening thing that you do for new beds. I use newspapers in another way. I have found using newspapers under brick patios or walkways works better than the garden cloth which is expensive too.

  6. Congratulations Pam, you are a winner;-)

  7. Jan - How wonderful! I am so excited. And the rain barrel, no less! Many thanks for this wonderful project!