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A practical guide to sustainable gardening

Updated: Mar 6

Sustainable gardening is a more natural approach to how we design and maintain our gardens. Gardening sustainably is crucial to protect our environment, preserve biodiversity, and ensure a healthier and greener future for generations to come.

A man collecting dry tree leaves for mulch
A man collecting dry tree leaves for mulch

In this day and age of climate change, using this approach around our homes can contribute a lot to creating a healthier environment around, especially in our urban areas.

10 Key Principles of Sustainable Gardening

The key principles of sustainable gardening focus on minimising environmental impact, conserving resources, and promoting biodiversity.

Here are some essential principles to consider:

1. Soil health and fertility:

Healthy soil is essential for biodiversity and for having healthy plants. Enhance the soil quality of your garden through organic amendments like compost and mulch. Avoid synthetic fertilisers and pesticides that can harm beneficial organisms and pollute the environment.

A Pair of hand holding healthy soil containing worms

2. Conservation of water:

Practice waterwise gardening techniques such as using drip irrigation or installing rainwater harvesting systems. Choose drought-tolerant plants and group them based on their water needs.

3. Indigenous and adapted plants:

As we develop our urban areas we are loosing more and more of our local indigenous plants which are not only stunning, but have adapted well to our local climate. Indigenous Plants and trees require less water, fertiliser, and maintenance, while supporting local ecosystems.

Select plants that are native or well-adapted to your region's climate and soil conditions. It may take a bit of time but shop around as we do have indigenous plant nurseries in Zambia like Rainlands Nursery, Plant-a-Million, and Trees 4 Zambia.

4. Biodiversity promotion:

Encourage biodiversity by planting a variety of species. Include native plants that attract pollinators, birds, and beneficial insects. Avoid invasive species that can disrupt local ecosystems.

5. Integrated Pest Management (IPM):

Implement IPM practices to control pests and diseases in an environmentally friendly manner. This approach includes techniques like biological controls, crop rotation, and mechanical methods.

6. Composting and recycling:

Compost organic waste, including kitchen scraps and yard trimmings, to create nutrient-rich soil amendments. Recycle and reuse materials whenever possible to reduce waste.

7. Energy efficiency:

Use energy-efficient tools and equipment in garden maintenance, such as electric or manual tools instead of gas-powered ones. Incorporate solar-powered lighting and consider renewable energy options.

8. Conservation of wildlife habitats:

Provide habitats for wildlife by incorporating features like birdhouses, bat boxes, or water sources. Create wildlife-friendly areas and avoid the use of harmful chemicals.

9. Responsible garden practices:

Practice proper garden management techniques, such as proper pruning, responsible disposal of garden waste, and avoiding overuse of resources like water and fertilizer.

10. Education and community involvement:

Sometimes its easier when you connect with other people so share knowledge and promote sustainable gardening practices within your community. Participate in local initiatives, workshops, or gardening clubs to learn and exchange ideas.

For example, Greens and Grains Trading is an organic vegetable shop in Lusaka and it host lively monthly 'Green Gatherings' meetings where it brings together organic enthusiasts, farmers and organisations working in the area of agroecology to exchange ideas.

You never know where you will find the inspiration or education you need to find out more from online groups, or community organisations.

By following these sustainable gardening principles, you can create a beautiful, resilient garden that benefits both the environment and your well-being.

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