82 Sustainable Gardening Tips

Go beyond organic with these creative, real-world ideas for more sustainable gardening.

| October/November 2011

  • Goat Pulling Cart
    Want to haul supplies sans fuel power? Try training a goat to pull a cart!
    KEITH WARD
  • Sustainable Garden Lead
    Composting, using poultry for pest control and reusing materials in the garden are just a few ways to make growing your own food more sustainable.
    ILLUSTRATION: KEITH WARD
  • Toilet In The Garden
    Some gardeners intercept the “waste” stream by saving and diluting urine, then using it on plants as fertilizer.
    KEITH WARD
  • Twig Plant Marker
    Instead of store-bought plant markers, try collecting twigs and shaving off a small area to write plant varieties on.
    KEITH WARD
  • Window Hay Cold Frame
    You can extend your growing season with natural and repurposed materials. For instance, make a cold frame from hay bales and an old window.
    KEITH WARD
  • Gardener Using Hand Sickle
    An old-fashioned hand sickle is an excellent tool for jobs such as cutting a small cover crop to use the material as mulch.
    KEITH WARD
  • Rocks In Bird Bath
    To support pollinators in your garden, plant a diversity of flowers and put a few rocks in a birdbath. The rocks will help the pollinators get a drink without drowning.
    KEITH WARD

  • Goat Pulling Cart
  • Sustainable Garden Lead
  • Toilet In The Garden
  • Twig Plant Marker
  • Window Hay Cold Frame
  • Gardener Using Hand Sickle
  • Rocks In Bird Bath

Most gardeners have sustainability on their minds. After all, growing your own food is a huge step toward leading a sustainable lifestyle. Organic, chemical-free methods are inherently more sustainable — for human health, wildlife, the soil and the water supply — than non-organic techniques. But sustainable gardening goes beyond just using organic methods. From water and energy conservation to waste reduction and smart seed-sourcing, there are infinite ways we can make our practices more sustainable.

To find out what’s going on in sustainable gardens across the United States and Canada, we surveyed the thousands of members of MOTHER’s Garden Advisory Group. Here are their best tips, broken down by category, many of which will not only help you garden more sustainably, but will save you money, too! We hope you’ll try these creative ideas in your garden and pass the tips along to your friends and neighbors. (To contribute tips to future articles, join our Editorial Advisory Groups.)

Reusing and Recycling Materials in the Garden

1. I use an old plastic mesh bag to round up leftover slivers of soap. I rubber-band the bag so it’s tight and hang it next to the hose. The combo of the slightly abrasive bag and the soap scrubs off garden dirt. — Irene, Washington 

2. I make row covers out of tomato cages, old rebar I got free, and used blankets I got at the local thrift store. — Cathy, Florida 



3. Instead of purchasing expensive weed-blocking landscape cloth, I use free old tarps from my local lumber store that they used to cover wood during shipping. — David, Utah 

4. I gather pieces of concrete to use as stepping stones in my garden. — Susan, Virginia 

liza
9/17/2017 3:55:38 PM

It is my understanding, and welcome anyone with some kind of science background or knowledge to correct or elaborate on this: salmonella can be avoided by washing the egg== soap and water == salmonella is not "in" the egg rather it is on the eggshell and when cracked and used without first being washed the salmonella can get into the then raw egg and eventually in you if not cooked thoroughly. This does make a certain amount of sense to me because I do know that the whites of the egg act as a barrier protecting the yolk from bacteria? The thickness or density or viscosity (better term) of the whites is difficult to move through...additionally, how would the salmonella get into the egg to begin with? God bless me, I have eaten many samplings of unbaked cakes and cookies... my grandmother used to let us eat much more than just the scrapings from the bowl and we never got sick, but I do realize that "the dog only died once" and that in and of itself is not a "good " basis for eating raw egg without thinking about the possibility of getting salmonella poisoning. (I cannot remember if my grandmother or mother for that matter washed the eggs first - but my sister swears by the fact that the salmonella is on the outside of the egg as I have described. She is not a scientist either, but her farming in laws passed this information to her. Any information concerning this concept would be welcome. Perhaps we were just lucky. What do you know?


liza
9/17/2017 3:55:09 PM

It is my understanding, and welcome anyone with some kind of science background or knowledge to correct or elaborate on this: salmonella can be avoided by washing the egg== soap and water == salmonella is not "in" the egg rather it is on the eggshell and when cracked and used without first being washed the salmonella can get into the then raw egg and eventually in you if not cooked thoroughly. This does make a certain amount of sense to me because I do know that the whites of the egg act as a barrier protecting the yolk from bacteria? The thickness or density or viscosity (better term) of the whites is difficult to move through...additionally, how would the salmonella get into the egg to begin with? God bless me, I have eaten many samplings of unbaked cakes and cookies... my grandmother used to let us eat much more than just the scrapings from the bowl and we never got sick, but I do realize that "the dog only died once" and that in and of itself is not a "good " basis for eating raw egg without thinking about the possibility of getting salmonella poisoning. (I cannot remember if my grandmother or mother for that matter washed the eggs first - but my sister swears by the fact that the salmonella is on the outside of the egg as I have described. She is not a scientist either, but her farming in laws passed this information to her. Any information concerning this concept would be welcome. Perhaps we were just lucky. What do you know?


liza
9/17/2017 3:54:06 PM

It is my understanding, and welcome anyone with some kind of science background or knowledge to correct or elaborate on this: salmonella can be avoided by washing the egg== soap and water == salmonella is not "in" the egg rather it is on the eggshell and when cracked and used without first being washed the salmonella can get into the then raw egg and eventually in you if not cooked thoroughly. This does make a certain amount of sense to me because I do know that the whites of the egg act as a barrier protecting the yolk from bacteria? The thickness or density or viscosity (better term) of the whites is difficult to move through...additionally, how would the salmonella get into the egg to begin with? God bless me, I have eaten many samplings of unbaked cakes and cookies... my grandmother used to let us eat much more than just the scrapings from the bowl and we never got sick, but I do realize that "the dog only died once" and that in and of itself is not a "good " basis for eating raw egg without thinking about the possibility of getting salmonella poisoning. (I cannot remember if my grandmother or mother for that matter washed the eggs first - but my sister swears by the fact that the salmonella is on the outside of the egg as I have described. She is not a scientist either, but her farming in laws passed this information to her. Any information concerning this concept would be welcome. Perhaps we were just lucky. What do you know?







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