Don’t listen to those who say green gardening is more labor intensive than any other type of gardening. If you have a perfect balance of nature in your garden then you may actually find you have more time than conventional gardeners, as the frogs are eating your slugs and the mulch is smothering your weeds.
Having only a small space in which to garden is also not as limiting as many believe it to be. There are a wide variety of miniature fruit and vegetable plants that can be grown in containers, herbs take up very little space and a natural sanctuary can be made out of even the smallest, concrete-filled backyard, flat roof or balcony.
However, for the green gardener there are other considerations when it comes to choosing what to grow. Obviously, growing your own organic herbs, fruit and vegetables is a great way to use your garden as you will be saving money, getting food you can trust and reducing the polluting effects of transporting the food you would otherwise buy to the local retailer. But even just growing wildflowers installing a water feature or planting a tree will help your local environment and make a difference to the planet as a whole.
The things to avoid are high-maintenance exotic plants that are not suited to your climate, have been transported for miles to reach your garden center, and are not attractive to local wildlife. It is also best to avoid buying large, established plants, as again they will have taken more energy to transport to you and may have been chemically treated. Ideally, you should grow from seed and the seeds should be organic or untreated, since conventional seeds are often given a chemical coating to combat fungus or disease.
Once your garden is established, you can harvest seeds from your plants and plant them again. Tomatoes, marrows, pumpkins, melons, aubergines (eggplant) and green peppers, for example, all have seeds that are easy to collect and can be sown again. Flower seeds, too, can be harvested by tying a paper bag over the seed head as it is ripening and shaking the seeds out when the head is dry. Seeds should be separated out from any dead plant material, dried and stored in labeled packets in a cool, airy drawer, before sowing the following year.
When buying plants, look beyond the standard varieties of fruits and vegetables used by commercial farmers. Instead, opt for tastier, traditional varieties that are no longer commonly grown and do your bit towards maintaining genetic diversity in our environment. Since these varieties were established before the advent of chemical fertilizers and pesticides they should also thrive in the organic conditions in your garden.
Beware of plants harvested from the wild. Stealing bulbs from the wild not only destroys the delicate eco-structure of the habitats from which they are taken, but the bulbs could easily be diseased. But it is important that we continue to plant wild species of plants, provided they come from reputable sources. These species are disappearing from their natural habitats at an alarming rate, so it is important to do our bit towards biodiversity.
Enjoy What to Grow, Part 1
Photo by: Karin Lau -