Gardening is a great pass-time for several reasons. For one it’s fun, and you will likely find that you enjoy the process of regularly tending to your plants, flowers and vegetables, and at the same time it’s something that has a satisfying end result and that anyone can try. You can even save yourself money by gardening and growing yourself vegetables and fruits to eat that will then not have to buy outside. However at the same time it’s also very good for the environment and a perfect way to do your bit for global warming and to help prevent climate change.
How a Garden Helps the Environment
Owning a garden helps the environment in many ways. First of all it will mean that you contribute to the number of plants and trees on the planet. This in turn is very important because plants and trees convert carbon into oxygen. More trees then mean less carbon, and as carbon is one of the greenhouse gasses that is trapping heat and keeping it in our atmosphere this is a great way to stop the climate changing as quickly as it is. It is said that if we each planted one tree every year, this would be enough to cancel out our carbon emissions.
At the same time when you garden you provide a habitat for lots of lifeforms and you encourage birds and insects to thrive and to reproduce. This is further important for the ecosystem as each creature plays a role for helping the environment and encouraging other life forms. For instance birds spread seeds and thereby create more plants, while insects provide food for those birds. If you use organic gardening effectively then you will create a little self-sustaining ecosystem right in your back garden and so this is of course good for the overall larger ecosystem of the planet.
What Is ‘Organic’ Gardening?
However some types of gardening are better for the environment than are others. In particular ‘organic’ gardening is better for the environment and other types can actually do more harm than good.
Organic gardening essentially means that you are using entirely organic materials, and in other words avoiding synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Pesticides involve things like slug tablets that are designed to entice slugs to eat them and them get poisoned. Of course this then reduces the number of slugs in the environment and this is a bad thing because slugs might damage your cabbage patch, but they are actually very important for other aspects of the ecosystem – for example they are lunch to a hedgehog. Worse though, by introducing poisons into the environment these can find their way through the food chain as other animals eat the pesticides, or eat the other animals that have just consumed the pesticides. This can even eventually find its way into a human diet.
Synthetic synthesisers are little better and also have a range of adverse effects that can again find their way through the food chain and cause damage this way. They can deplete the water, kill off microbes and damage the soil. In short – the ecosystem has been designed to sustain itself and has done so successfully long before humans were around, so it’s best not to introduce chemicals into it.
Instead then organic gardening means using the things in your garden correctly to avoid pests and feed your plants rather than using man-made chemicals. This will then also mean that you attract more wildlife into your garden and can feel good about using your smarts and working with nature to create a perfect microcosm. It will also be cheaper as you won’t need to buy extra materials, and longer lasting.
Making Your Own Organic Fertiliser
So how do you go about feeding plants without buying chemical fertilisers? Well essentially plants – just like people – eat organic material in liquid form. This then can be made from all kinds of things so long as it’s ground down into a powder or added to their water. For instance, when you clean out a fish tank simply using this water to water your plants can provide them with a lot of nutrients that has come from the fish (and their manure), the other plants and the fish food. Likewise if you have a compost heap of old decomposed plants and vegetables then this can be boiled or blended and used as fertiliser as it will give the healthy plants all of the minerals and nutrients left in those decomposed ones. Nettles are often used and a lot of people will purposefully allow nettles to decompose and then use them in their liquid fertiliser.
In the wild plants survive in forests and fields despite the high number of insects and mammals present and that’s because they have other natural predators that can help you – so your aim in organic gardening is to mimic this rather than poison them with chemicals. You want to encourage more wildlife rather than create a sterile lifeless environment.
For instance to counteract the negative impact of slugs you should encourage hedgehogs into your garden which will eat the slugs as well as birds. Keep a bird bath and put out bird food, and leave a small bowl of milk for your hedgehogs at night. These will then prey on the slugs and aphids and will also make for a more lively and exciting garden.
Other pests are aphids and ants which will eat many plants. A great way to eliminate these naturally is with ladybirds. You can attract these by providing ladybird houses that you can buy in most stores. Another technique is to create a ‘meadow area’ which is a patch of very long grass and weeds that you allow to grow somewhere in your garden and which will attract ladybirds and several other insects.
Tip: A quick way to keep slugs off of your plants is to leave egg shells around the area as slugs can’t walk over these. At the same time the egg shells will also be good for the soil and add calcium.