Most of us are aware that it’s the big companies that are polluting the planet and not some of our smaller actions. However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have a role to play in preserving it for all future generations. Fortunately, there are many things that we can do to help protect the environment. One of them is most certainly gardening and producing food.
If you, like many people, spent most of 2020 and 2021 looking for a hobby that will help you pass the time, you might have taken gardening into consideration. In case you gave it a try, you’ve surely learned all about the countless health benefits that it can provide you with. On the other hand, if you’re still on the fence about gardening, maybe you’ll be convinced once you find out that it can boost your wellbeing in addition to helping the planet. For those that are not yet familiar, spending time in your outdoor garden will provide you with plenty of fresh air and expose you to more sunlight, which is vital for the production of vitamin D and several hormones that help your body function normally. For example, you can not only strengthen your immune system and improve your mood but also ensure you are getting more quality sleep and getting some exercise. That’s right, gardening can be considered exercise as it burns many calories and gets various muscle groups moving as you will be bending over, dragging heavy bags around, and doing various other repetitive movements.
Furthermore, just like gardening can keep you fit and healthy, it can also do wonders for the planet. So, in what ways is gardening and producing food actually good for the environment? Read on to learn more and finally decide to take up this practice.
You will be lowering your carbon footprint
How far away from your home is the closest store? Do you use your car to get there? How often do you go to the store? How big of a carbon footprint are you leaving behind every time you go to the store because you need some ingredients for your meals? By having a garden in your own home, you can cut down on your trips to the store and thus reduce your carbon footprint.
What is more, even if you happen to have a supermarket on your street that you can visit on foot or bike, you have to take into account how far the food you are purchasing traveled from the field or greenhouse where it was grown to make it onto the shelves of your local store. Unless you know that the produce in the supermarket is sourced locally, sectioning off a part of your yard for a garden is a great way to save the environment and your finances. As a matter of fact, you can even do it in an apartment by adding a couple of containers to the balcony or terrace.
You will use less energy
You are surely aware of the problem that Earth has with non-renewable resources. While you might not be able to afford solar panels for your home or power your household through wind power, you have a much more affordable alternative at your disposal. By strategically planting trees and shrubs around your home, you can start using less energy. As these plants will be providing you with some much-necessary shade, your home will not heat up as quickly and you won’t have to run the air conditioning as often. So, not only will you not be spending excessive amounts of money on cooling your home but you will also be reducing the planet’s use of fossil fuels.
There are a few other things you should keep in mind if you plan on cutting down on your electricity bills. For starters, when adding lighting fixtures to your yard, you want to opt for solar-powered lights as they will accumulate energy during the day and convert it into light when the night falls. You can also use LED bulbs for the existing fixtures. What is more, you should also avoid using electric and gas-powered tools like lawnmowers as gas engines release toxic emissions into the air. Doing these things by hand will both not affect the planet and give you a bigger workout.
You’re helping clean the air and soil
Starting your own garden also helps with air and ground pollution. You might be wondering how. Well, to begin with, you are surely familiar with the process of photosynthesis. During it, plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. So, in short, they take something we don’t need and recycle it into something that is essential for our survival. Moreover, plants also have the ability to filter the air we breathe by removing bacteria and chemicals from it. With that in mind, even if you don’t have space for a huge backyard garden, having some houseplants in your apartment or a mini garden on the balcony can mean a lot too.
On the other hand, plants are capable of cleaning the ground as well. The roots of the plant can actually uptake the heavy metals and chemicals they come into contact with, both in the soil and groundwater. By absorbing these, plants are creating much healthier soil. However, you have to keep in mind the fact that this process can severely harm the plants. If you notice them struggling, make sure to have your soil tested to see if you’re facing a bigger issue than expected.
You will be using fewer chemicals
Even though plants are able to filter various chemicals, this is not enough for a clean planet. It’s of the utmost importance that you also pay attention to what you are putting into the soil. As you will be eating the food you produce as well, you want to steer clear of various dangerous chemicals that can be found in fertilizers and pesticides.
With that in mind, you should consider growing organic food. You might be wondering what that means exactly. For starters, you want to look for an organic fertilizer that will ensure your soil and plants get all the necessary nutrients without damaging the planet with all kinds of chemicals. While organic fertilizer is not difficult to find and all you need to do is check the label, you can also put in some extra effort into your gardening and start your own compost. Although it can sound complicated to a complete beginner, rest assured that it’s not at all hard to do; it just takes some time. The great thing about composting is that you get to use various kitchen scraps and leftovers as well as things that you can find in your garden. Everything from veggie and fruit leftovers and peelings to cereal, coffee grounds, and tea leaves and bags can go into your compost bin. On the other hand, animal products such as meat, bones, and milk should be avoided. In terms of garden waste, you can use grass clippings, dead leaves and twigs, pine needles, and old herbs. What is more, sawdust, non-glossy paper, old clothes and rags from natural fabrics, and so many other items can help you make your own compost so look for a useful YouTube tutorial that will guide you through it.
Besides fertilizer, you also need to think about the ways you will be keeping weeds and pests at bay. Many pesticides are full of chemicals that are harmful to the environment. Instead, you can look into natural ways of repelling certain pests. For example, you can attract natural predators of certain species as wasps and ladybugs can keep aphids away. Then, planting aromatic herbs such as basil, mint, and citronella is a great way to deter potato beetles. Something else you can try is growing sacrificial plants that will attract pests while those that you plan on using will stay safe. Finally, if pulling weeds by hand every day seems like too much of a chore, you can learn more about companion plants that are mutually beneficial. One perk of this method is fewer weeds.
You will help water conservation efforts
Do you think about the amount of water you consume on a daily basis? If you don’t live in a drought-prone area, this thought might never even cross your mind. However, water scarcity is an issue that affects a third of the global population. If you plan on starting a garden, it’s also important that you learn the best watering practices so that you are doing your part in water conservation.
For instance, you need to know when and how much to water your plants. Many beginners make the mistake of lightly sprinkling the plants with water every day – this is something that you want to avoid. As you want their roots to grow deep and strong, it’s vital that you soak the soil properly every few days. You want a quality weeper or soaker hose for this purpose as these are ideal for watering large garden beds and lawns. In addition, early morning watering is best as then the foliage has enough time to dry and the evaporation loss is reduced. Watering in the evening could hurt your plants in the long run as they will be more prone to disease. If you think you won’t be able to take care of the garden in the morning, you can also invest in a timer that will ensure your plants get all the water they need.
You should also be aware of the fact that the chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers find their way into the groundwater. If you also drink that water, don’t be surprised if it’s full of chemicals. Moreover, using it to water your plants creates a vicious cycle. So, in addition to sticking to organic fertilizers and natural pesticides, you can also consider using rainwater to water your plants. Tap water is usually over-processed and doesn’t contain all the nutrients that your plants need.
You are helping prevent soil erosion
Deep and strong roots have another crucial role. As they have the ability to bind the soil together, you are helping prevent soil erosion. Soil can often wash away after a heavy rain so encouraging strong roots by properly soaking the ground is very important. Plus, roots can also prevent slopes from going downhill.
You will reduce the amount of waste you produce
In addition to not having to go to the store as often and reducing your carbon footprint, you will also be producing less waste and thus reducing the size of landfills. For one, you will not be buying countless plastic containers and bags in which you will carry the produce. Then, if you choose to make your own compost, you will be minimizing your kitchen leftovers. By turning all your scraps into compost, you will be feeding your plants and, in turn, getting even more food.
You will combat noise pollution
Noise pollution, also known as environmental noise, is a big problem in this day and age. It is mainly caused by transport, machines, and propagation systems but, fortunately, it can be combated with plants. For example, if you’re looking to turn your home into a peaceful oasis where you can escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world, you can plant a row of shrubs or trees that will act as a sound barrier. Furthermore, by doing this, you will be creating a more peaceful place for the rest of the population.
You will contribute to the preservation of wildlife
Finally, if you care about saving the planet, you surely also care about the preservation of wildlife. As we are turning more animal habitats into urban areas, these poor creatures have nowhere to go. To provide them with a safe space, you should allow them to make themselves at home in your garden. Whether you have a huge backyard garden or a tiny one on your balcony, you can surely make room for some insects, birds, and even critters. This can be very beneficial for your crops, especially if you invite pollinators. Furthermore, many people see slugs as harmful to their garden but you don’t actually want to get rid of them completely as they play a vital role in the food chain. Instead, look for a natural way to keep them away. Lastly, avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides will also help the ecosystem.
Whether you want to do some light landscaping or produce enough food that you can even sell it, the practice of gardening has many benefits, for both you and the planet. If you’re looking for a nice hobby, this is certainly one you must consider.
About the author: Nina is a lifestyle blogger, yoga aficionado and a travel enthusiast with a distinctive taste for home decor. She’s passionate about learning new things and sharing meaningful ideas. In her free time, she loves to design clothes and furniture. If you wanna see what she’s up to you can find her on twitter.