Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Sustainability is important to making sure that we have and will continue to have the water, materials and resources to protect human health and our environment.
United states Environmental Protection Agency website
Maybe you’re starting your first vegetable garden or maybe, you’re a returning seasonal veteran. Either way, you might be interested in how easy it is to initiate greener, more environmentally friendly practices in your own backyard, or patio for that matter. It’s almost as simple as asking (and answering) a few basic questions.
Do I grow what I need for my survival?
Are you a frugal gardener? Do you eat what you grow? Even if you’re simply growing tomatoes or peppers in containers on your porch, if you answered yes to both then you are sustained by your garden. With produce costs on the rise across the nation, it’s no wonder that vegetable gardening has gained in popularity. More plant nurseries and seed vendors means that a wider variety of fruit and vegetables are available for public consumption further increasing the number of home owners putting spade to dirt. With those added numbers, it makes sense that we all attempt to instigate those practices most beneficial to our continued survival, and success.
Do I use sustainable practices?
If you’ve followed any PUGE (Philadelphia Urban Gardening Examiner) advice from earlier articles then you‘ve already begun your own backyard green initiative. Sustainable practices in earlier articles include:
- How to utilize natural resources for your garden, aka rain water via barrels and downspout extensions
- How to reduce man’s footprint by added compost instead of chemical fertilizers
- How to plant regional varieties to ensure success
- How to rotate crops yearly to stave off disease or other ill effects
Am I kind to the environment?
Achieving sustainability is like being in a marriage between man and his environment. As in any marriage, it takes work. If one party overwhelms the other then the union suffers. Likewise if man’s footprint overwhelms natures then we, the planet, everyone suffers. Save the marriage and the planet by
- Composting or Vermicomposting to reduce amount of waste pickup
- Mulching and/or growing rain gardens to protect our community aquifers or watershed
- Using only organic materials wherever possible
Is my garden sustainable?
According to the EPA, sustainability comes from our ability to”…. have and… continue to have water, materials and resources….” Ensure that your garden continues through seed identification and cataloging at season’s end. Make sure you have it for next year by saving seeds from a few of the last, and best specimens for the year. Store seeds in an airtight container in a cool environment until ready to use. Other methods that facilitate sustainability include food preservation and canning or the planting of cover crops during fall or early spring. But we’ll cover more of that later in the season, especially canning, once those pickling cukes go in.