Creating a garden with a healthy eco-system requires us to think about a broad number of different things, and now these influence each other. We must understand the connections between climate, soil conditions, plant and animal bio-diversity, the life-cycles of plants and animals, and human activities. And we must learn how to take practical steps to nurture and build up connections between all these things in ways that benefit both people and Nature. This is no small task. Where do I even begin, you may well ask?
These are three things you will learn from An Ecological Gardeners Handbookthat can make this task much easier.
You will learn to:-
- 1 – Analyse your own social expectations for your garden, and think about the ways these may affect your ability to create an eco-friendly garden.
Have you ever stopped to think about why you garden in certain ways? What attracts you to certain plants, landscape designs, or gardening practices over others? What do you really want to achieve in your garden, and why?
All sorts of things can influence how we choose to garden – what grandparents, parents, friends or neighbours say or do, our favourite gardening magazine or T.V show, where and how we are educated, how much time or money we have available. If we don’t think about how these affect our gardening habits, we may adopt practices that hamper our attempts to create an eco-friendly garden landscape.
The great Japanese philosopher and natural farmer- gardener, Masanabu Fukuoka, for instance, once commented that Americans have a ‘lawn culture’. He meant that many American gardeners cultural obsession with large, highly manicured lawns prevented them from considering more eco-friendly possibilities for gardening.
Chapters 3, 4 and 5 in An Ecological Gardeners Handbook look at various ways our social expectations may influence our gardening practices. Chapter 4 has a fun, quick quiz to help you analyse how eco-friendly your own gardening habits are.
- 2- Understand how plant health, soil health and human health are all connected to each other, and how to use organic methods to build fertile, living soil for optimal plant health.
Using natural, organic methods to build a healthy, living soil in your garden is a vital step to creating an eco-friendly garden. Organic methods of building soil fertility aim to increase soil humus levels, boost life in the soil that nourishes and protects plants, and protect the soil eco-system.
Organically managed soils contain a wider variety of mycorrhizae (fungi), soil microbes, earthworms and soil life in general than chemically treated soils. This soil life plays many important roles in a healthy garden eco-system. It converts soil nutrients into forms that are easily taken up by plant roots, helps plants absorb nutrients, and protects plants from pests and disease.
Healthy life in the soil also helps support healthy life above the soil, as many beneficial garden creatures such as birds, insects and small animals feed on soil dwelling creatures.
Natural means of boosting soil fertility include composting, mulching, vermi-composting (using earthworm castes), using compost teas or EM (Effective Micro-organisms), green manures and companion planting. All of these are discussed in Chapters 8, 9 and 10 of An Ecological Gardeners Handbook.
- 3 – Look at how local wild plants grow, and use this as inspiration to create locally suitable plant communities for your garden.
Wild plants don’t just grow randomly across a landscape. They form patterns and associations with each other that are linked to local climate patterns, soil conditions, the shape of the landscape (topography), other plants nearby, patterns of sun and shade (aspect), and the habits of local wildlife. We can use these patterns to inspire and guide us in choosing suitable plants for our own gardens. Chapters 6, 7 and 10 of An Ecological Gardeners Handbook give tips on creating sustainable communities of garden plants that suit local conditions.
The ebook An Ecological Gardeners Handbook; How to create a garden with a healthy eco-system and garden sustainably, by Valerie Payn, is available from https://www.amazon.com/Ecological-Gardeners-Handbook-Eco-System-Sustainably-ebook/dp/B013CCJNSC and all other major international ebook distributors.