Monday, April 5, 2010

My Sustainable Gardening Story


Jan over at Thanks for Today gardening blog has asked me to submit a post on sustainable gardening in honor of Earth Day. Here is my entry for you Jan!

I went to a lecture on Sustainable Gardening the other day. It was amazing to me, not what I learned, but that this was news. Do people really use insecticides anymore? I guess so. Do people plant with little regard to their climate anymore? I guess the do. Isn't it common knowledge that a good garden starts with the soil and welcomes all wildlife? I guess not.

I must admit that when I had my first real garden many years ago I didn't know the importance of using organic methods, building up the soil and water conservation. I was introduced to "sustainable gardening" by a lovely woman named Jan who had hundreds of rose bushes she grew organically in our area. For $25 a year you could subscribe to her monthly newsletter that explained the importance of respecting the earth and all of its creatures and the impact a gardener has on the balance of it all. It was a big eye-opener for me and I went totally organic from then on.

The first three years were the worse and I used to tell visitors you could tell I had an organic garden because it looked like crap. And it did - at least for a while. Then slowly things started to change. There were still lots of bugs in my garden, they just were a balance of good bugs and bad bugs and the damage from the ones that thrived on plant material started to disappear. There were also all kinds of birds in the garden, eating, singing, nesting and raising their young. The plants that I thought would never thrive without the heavy doses of chemical fertilizers became robust and stronger without them. They resisted diseases that I thought could only be controlled by toxic sprays. I learned that if a plant that typically grow well in our area was suffering from a bug infestation or disease it was most likely because that it was planted in the wrong spot and needed to be moved. I let go of my need to grow plants that did not do well in our climate. My garden became a source of pleasure and joy instead of a constant drain of time and energy trying to do battle with Mother Nature.

I sympathize with new gardeners because there is so much to learn, either from others or from trial and error. But if you start by respecting the earth, your payback will be enormous and your gardening experiences will be one of the highlights in your life!

6 comments:

Turling said...

Nicely said. The first thing we decided when going on this adventure was to be as organic as we possibly could. It does take more effort, it seems, but I think the trade offs are without question.

Lzyjo said...

Beautiful post about sustainable gardening. I totally hear you. I had the same problems in my first vegetable gardens. I think, now, I'm smarter about managing the pests, doing things like searching for eggs and knowing which bugs are on my side. It's a tricky balance but over time it's rewarding.

Jan (Thanks For Today) said...

Hi Sheila, It is so true about the 'balance' that exists in nature. I have been learning these things by trial and error. I used to think everyone who gardened understood some of these concepts but it's true, most don't. Most don't garden 'sustainably' and I was one of them, until recently, when I've started to be more particular about what I grow. I used to like to try out anything new that caught my fancy but I've learned a lot through blogging, and also from the participants in my project...Your post is a nice contribution and very much appreciated. Would you mind leaving a comment on my blog with a link to this post? You can leave it right here:

http://thanksfor2day.blogspot.com/2010/01/earth-daysustainable-living-giveaway.html

Thanks;-)
Jan

Susan said...

Well stated!

Nola @ the Alamo said...

Going organic is a bit of work and you have to relearn a few things, but it has it's rewards. As with many things in the garden, it teaches you patience and tolerance.

Aerelonian said...

Great post. I hope to avoid all fertilizer use when I actually have outdoor space of my own.