Sustainable gardening has become a buzzword within the environmental community in recent years. But what does the term actually mean? Essentially, sustainable gardening is a concept which revolves around the creation of physical, psychological and visual sustenance and nourishment using natural resources without disrupting existing ecosystems or increasing carbon footprints.The resources can come in the form of land, water supply, seeds, fertiliser and much more. The guiding principle behind sustainable gardening is sustainable production and respect for the environment. Whether you’re a wannabe sustainable gardener, or just contemplating joining the movement, in our series "Sustainabe Gardening" we’ve compiled several tips and environmental hacks that would help you get started on the right path.
Compost is a generic term used to describe decomposed organic garden waste such as leaves, flowers, fruits, twigs, branches, bark, dead insects, etc. It is extremely beneficial for cultivation soil as it improves the nutrient content of soil. In addition, its presence improves the water retention and internal irrigation of soil. In other words, compost makes for healthier and more productive soil. Due to its characteristics, compost is an essential component of sustainable gardening. It helps to recycle natural waste from the garden and reduce the time, effort and costs involved in disposing of garden residue. While composts can be purchased from farms and farmer’s markets, any self-respecting sustainable gardener should really try making their own. It’s really not that hard!
The first step entails collecting all the residues from the garden floor. If your garden is on the balcony or in the kitchen, the same principles applies – just make necessary, logical adjustments. Thereafter, compile all the waste inside a container (or containers). The collection is not a one-off process, since gardens and the animals that live inside them create wastes daily. Be sure to include grass clippings and sheared or trimmed branches in the compost pile. To stimulate the decomposition process, introduce a little water into the pile. Put your hands in and mix everything around. If you want to speed up the process, you can mix in 10-10-10 fertiliser, which is a type of fertiliser containing 10% concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. To ensure there is sufficient amount of oxygen for bacteria and other microorganisms during the decomposing process, mix up the pile every two weeks. If you feel it is getting dry, splash some water into the pile. The decomposition of your compost will be completed in about three to four months during the summer and spring months – it might take as long as five to eight months during fall and winter, though. When spreading your fresh compost, please don’t do it during the rainy season. Compost needs several days to settle in, and the presence of rainwater means the material may just get swept away and accumulate at one location in your garden (usually the lowest elevated spot).