Gardening Tips

82 Sustainable Gardening Tips

82 Sustainable Gardening Tips

By MOTHER EARTH NEWS readers and Shelley Stonebrook

Most gardeners have sustainability on their minds. After all, growing your own food is a huge step toward leading a sustainable lifestyle. Organic, chemical-free methods are inherently more sustainable — for human health, wildlife, the soil and the water supply — than non-organic techniques. But sustainable gardening goes beyond just using organic methods. From water and energy conservation to waste reduction and smart seed-sourcing, there are infinite ways we can make our practices more sustainable.

82 Sustainable Gardening Tips

Image credit: By Lamiot (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

To find out what’s going on in sustainable gardens across the United States and Canada, we surveyed the thousands of members of MOTHER’s Garden Advisory Group. Here are their best tips, broken down by category, many of which will not only help you garden more sustainably, but will save you money, too! We hope you’ll try these creative ideas in your garden and pass the tips along to your friends and neighbors. (To contribute tips to future articles, join our Editorial Advisory Groups.)
Reusing and Recycling Materials in the Garden

1. I use an old plastic mesh bag to round up leftover slivers of soap. I rubber-band the bag so it’s tight and hang it next to the hose. The combo of the slightly abrasive bag and the soap scrubs off garden dirt. — Irene, Washington

2. I make row covers out of tomato cages, old rebar I got free, and used blankets I got at the local thrift store. — Cathy, Florida

3. Instead of purchasing expensive weed-blocking landscape cloth, I use free old tarps from my local lumber store that they used to cover wood during shipping. — David, Utah

4. I gather pieces of concrete to use as stepping stones in my garden. — Susan, Virginia

5. I recycle drink cups to grow tomatoes from seed. When they’re ready to transplant, I simply remove the bottom inch or so of each cup and plant directly in the ground. This prevents cutworms from making a meal of my transplants. — S., California

6. I was given some heavy-duty metal “for sale” sign frames, and I placed them in my raised beds to support bed covers in early spring. — Kat, California

7. Old pantyhose are my friends: They make garden ties, and I use them to “bag” cantaloupes growing on trellises so the melons have extra support. — Donna, North Carolina

8. I make all my garden fencing with scrap wood and build my veggie trellises and arbors with fallen branches and saplings. — Irene, New Jersey

9. My plant tags are twigs with a shaved-off area to write on. — Michelle, New York

10. For a cold frame in late winter, we prop old windows against straw bales. When I know we’re in danger of a frost, I take old bean poles and jab them into the ends of my beds, throw old sheets over them, use stones or bricks to hold down the edges, and voilà! I have a makeshift tent in my garden. — Liz, Ohio

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