What Are Your Best Tips for Sustainability in the Garden?

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ShovelMy guess is that organic gardeners already have sustainability on their minds. After all, growing your own food is a huge first step in leading a sustainable lifestyle. Plus, nontoxic, chemical-free methods are inherently more sustainable — for health, for the soil, for the water supply — than non-organic techniques.

But being a sustainable gardener goes beyond food. An organic gardener could fertilize with homemade compost, but could also choose to feed plants with certified organic fertilizer that was shipped thousands of miles in its plastic container to wind up on a garden center shelf.

Considerations of sustainability factor into countless other supplies, tools and methods present in your garden. Whether it’s your garden gloves, pots, garden fence, shovel or raised bed lumber, questions arise: Where did it come from? (Or ship from?) What raw materials were used to make it? Was anything reused or repurposed? How long will it last? Was a lot of energy used in its making? What was it packaged in?

Fertilizers, weed-prevention supplies and techniques, and insect-prevention supplies and methods all have their own sets of questions. How is this method or product affecting the earth? Other creatures? The long-term health of the soil?

Water usage is yet another area that offers great opportunities for choosing more sustainable options.

What do you do in your own garden to be a sustainable gardener? Please share your tips with our readers! And feel free to think big. Sustainability in the garden can go way beyond what’s mentioned here. We’re hoping to publish an article sometime next year with great advice on this topic, and we can’t wait to hear your creative ideas.


Shelley Stonebrook is MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine’s main gardening editor. She’s passionate about growing healthy, sustainable food and taking care of our environment. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and .

Photo by iStockphoto/Jim Jurica