How to grow a sustainable vegetable garden

DIY is the Kiwi way, so when it comes to growing our veggies at home, why wouldn’t we do it ourselves? And in particular, why not keep it eco-friendly?

If you’ve got the space, you can make the time to set up and grow a sustainable vegetable garden at home. You might even work with a neighbour to care for it together and share the rewards!

The benefits of growing a sustainable garden at home

Have you seen supermarket prices lately? Not only will growing at home reward you with piles of veggies and keep your diet varied, but you won’t have to stand in the fresh produce aisle trying to decide if tomatoes are actually necessary after all.

But importantly, having your own source of veggies will mean less stress on the planet, as your local supply chain will consist of nothing more than wandering outside to grab a few spuds for dinner, rather than the truck that takes potatoes from a farm to the supermarket, then for you to get them home again (and let’s not even get started on packaging).

You’ll also know exactly what goes into growing them, so you can avoid using harsh chemicals such as pesticides.

And of course, you’ll even be helping save the bees. These fuzzy little pollinators will love your flowering vegetables, adding another eco-friendly reason to grow your own.

How to grow a sustainable vegetable garden at home

Ready to turn your thumbs green and the back of your neck bright red?

Here’s how to get growing at home.

1. Make your soil sustainable

Your existing garden will likely need some help to get started. That’s because out in nature, soil is enriched by natural life cycles, such as when foliage and other organic materials fall to the ground and become part of the soil.

That same life cycle doesn’t tend to occur in home gardens, where things are usually kept tidy.

To enrich your soil in a sustainable way, you can start with either an organic fertiliser, or create compost using household scraps to make a healthy, nutritious soil bed for your plants. Even if you get started with fertiliser, you can move to a compost system to better use your kitchen scraps and reduce your reliance on fertiliser in the future.

2. Choose your vegetables for sustainability

Of course, you should aim to grow the vegetables you’re most likely to consume and enjoy.

But it’s also a good idea to make your selections based on sustainability. For example, you can plant vegetables that don’t take much water to grow, such as sweet potatoes, beans, tomatoes, and even zucchini. This is a double win, as it means less water use for the environment, and less watering work for you!

You can also opt for a good variety of veggies, which will help to foster natural diversity in your garden.

3. Avoid pesticides

Pesticides are sometimes used to ward off unwelcome bugs that could harm your plants, but the problem is that pesticides can cause harm to much more than bugs.

Instead, opt for organic solutions. The rise of interest in natural insecticides has seen a number of products come available at local nurseries, or you can make your own at home by crushing garlic, mixing it with boiling water, and spraying it over your crops once the water has cooled. This is an effective deterrent, as bugs have more in common with vampires than you might think – they are definitely not fans of garlic.

Similarly, you can even plant onions and garlic amongst your veggies, as their smell will help ward off insects!

3. Collect water whenever you can

Did you know that the average New Zealander uses 227 litres of water per day? That’s more than four times what it actually takes to meet our basic water needs.

While a lot of this water can’t be re-used in the garden, consider finding ways to capture some of the water that you can use. For example, you could pop a bucket in the shower while you’re waiting for the water to heat up, and do the same thing in the kitchen. If everyone in the house does it, you’ll hardly need to use the hose!

You can also use buckets to collect rainwater that falls on other parts of your property to feed to your garden.

Growing your own vegetables and fruit is a nutritious way of keeping your body happy. A healthy future takes proactive planning.

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That way, you can relax knowing your loved ones are covered and get back to enjoying your gardening!