Gardening can initially seem like an ecologically friendly activity, until you start looking at how much energy is used to make some common chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and tools. Although growing your own flowers and vegetables is generally ecologically friendly, looking at a number of ideas to reduce your ecological footprint can help to improve your garden's impact on the environment.
Composting is a good way to convert yard and vegetative kitchen waste into an organic soil enhancer. By preventing those materials from entering a landfill, you help to increase the usable life cycle of the landfill. By converting the organic materials to compost at home, you also help to reduce the production of greenhouse gases in landfills. Composting helps to return nutrients produced by your garden, kitchen and yard back to your garden and yard. You can make compost in a traditional compost pile or you can use a commercially made compost bin that can make it easier to turn the compost to speed breakdown.
Chemical fertilizers are often made using energy-intensive processes that convert petroleum products into petrochemicals that are subsequently made into fertilizers. Organic fertilizers sidestep that energy-intensive process. Organic fertilizers are also gentler and have less of a tendency to leach out of the soil and damage nearby aquatic environments. Common organic fertilizers include fish and kelp meals and emulsions, blood meal, bone meal, seed meals, feather meals, bat guano and a number of fresh and composted animal and poultry manure.
Organic Pest Control
Controlling insects via natural means places fewer stresses on the biological systems that support your garden. When you use chemical pesticides, they often kill many beneficial insects and microbes. By killing these beneficial microbes and insects, you can inadvertently trigger other problems in your garden. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers can also leach into nearby waterways and cause environmental problems further downstream. Organic pest controls can include gentle soaps designed to target particular pests. They can also include the introduction of predatory insects, such as using ladybugs to control an aphid infestation.
If you are starting a new garden, you might consider buying tools and products made from recycled materials. For example, a soaker hose made from recycled tires reduces petroleum usage while decreasing water loss due to the evaporation that accompanies the use of sprinklers. The plastic handles of some garden tools are sometimes made of recycled plastic. Used tools are another way to reduce your garden's ecological footprint. By using used tools, you are recycling the entire tool, rather than simply a part of the tool.