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

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?


livngfree
9/17/2017 3:54:04 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?


pdgrovebaskets
8/25/2017 7:21:22 PM

I am extremely happy to see that when people are using any type of manure in their compost bins (I can't believe the one person gets elephant waste from a zoo, that's a hoot. I bet they're glad to get rid of all they can. Can you imagine how MUCH waste a herd of elephants produces!) it is NOT human waste. I may not remember everything from my college days but I definitely remember this topic. I believe we may have been on human diseases and infections. This is also why you will NEVER see me eat raw fish in sushi or anything else. I also know of a very sad true case of a West Virginia farmer, this was the father-in-law of someone I knew pretty well. This man was a tough old lifetime farmer that SHOULD have been at some point exposed to and immune to everything imaginable on a farm. However, one day after breaking an egg in the kitchen he apparently did not clean up after it properly. What it eventually contaminated no one knows for sure, he lived alone. As he began to show signs of an illness days later no one, including his own doctor, thought it any more than the flu. As days progressed and he became worse and worse. He finally became critical and was rushed to the ER. By this time he had a full blown salmonella infection. As it took SO long to get him there no antibiotic, the strongest made, wouldn't help. He died. This egg was from his own chickens on his own farm. I figure if THIS man can die from salmonella, anyone on this earth can. I NO longer allow ANY raw eggs in food i bake for myself or for anyone rlse but shockingly, as a baker I STILL see TV chefs do recipes on their shows quite often using raw eggs. Its very much the same thing with manure. I've been shocked multiple times when watching programs over the past several years and I'm pretty sure its shows about Alaska where people using composting toilets and other things are applying human waste on their gardens where they grow food for their own consumption. When I've seen this I want to scream at the people, STOP! This is THE biggest "no-no" in farming. Its a massive risk. Now, human waste may be used to grow vegetation animals will eat. All waste MUST go through another host to break the cycle. By the time any human bacteria is used to fertilize animal food, then the animals eat and digest it and then produce manure and that manure is then used on human gardens the cycle is broken. If humans consume the animals the host SHOULD be broken however its far better if that human waste is not used on fields used to feed livestock the humans will consume. Swap with a neighbor and let it go through several hosts. Consuming plants fertilized with human waste can transfer things such as E. coli bacteria back to the humans. I was taught this back in the 80s in college so how is this happening in the 2000s in commercial farming in California? This is what can happen when you use human waste on food FOR humans. This is how the outbreaks of E coli in 2000 something in California ended up with the E coli within the cell walls of leafy greens grown there. The bacteria is within the plants. You CANNOT wash this off. So WHY is the state of Alaska allowing its residents to do this? I know they have almost no building codes but this is different. How can they not be informing their residents? If a student in Human Anatomy classes knows this why don't the paid experts in Alaska know this? I would seriously hope in the lower 48 this is being told to farmers and gardeners as the wonderful hobby of gardening is making a resurgence.


akmpmal
8/23/2017 10:50:21 AM

Great tips! I love reading all your ideas, can't wait to get my AZ garden growing.


robert
8/5/2017 2:16:58 PM

We started gardening and we were gone wrong. We could not figure out why we were not getting the beautiful vegetables we were hoping for. People suggest to spray chemicals for vegetables and fruits but is poison and it is not organic vegetables. My lab professor referred a guide it helps me to grow my gardening as what we like, you can get the guide from here >> ( http://go2l.ink/plants ) <<. I have recommended this system to all of my friends and family. We got good organic natural vegetables and fruits in the next harvest, one of the beautiful products in the market.


lawnmowertoday
3/27/2016 12:56:43 AM

Wow these are great tips about recycling items in the garden. I especially like point number 5, using recycled cups to grow tomatoes from seed. What a fantantic idea! I'm going to try that as soon as the sun rises in the morning. We have a related article over here: http://lawnmowertoday.com/these-tips-can-help-your-organic-garden-thrive/ Yours is a great website, and we enjoy reading your posts regularly. Best Regards


eaglegreen
7/10/2015 9:38:12 AM

Dear M.E.N.: Thank you for all I've gleaned from your publication ONLINE over the past years. I really appreciate it. Please consider offering a "Classified's" section online where people who have comfrey roots, rhubarb, elm seedlings which can be grown for a living fence, etc. Seed packets for trade, etc. People who have a way of building a small windmill, and what is needed to transform, or store the useable energy, to provide plans for those of us who want to try it, etc. It would be a great service for all your readers, and a great way to expand your usefulness, and draw people to your site. Please. Thank you, again. Blessings,


dee
6/28/2015 8:18:05 AM

We have a great garden at the church. We are using 'field corn' to produce seeds for the birds, & then we use the leaves & stalks to make beds out of for more veggies.. Everything get's recycled in some way. We have 0 waste!


jenny
9/11/2013 12:43:33 PM

we have to our mother earth. linkedintips is a a nice site. you can learn a lot try to visit our site then you see how it works. http://linkedinsummarytips.com Linkedin Tips ”URL”


donna.bonura.3
6/28/2013 8:06:39 AM

On "You Tube" I saw a guy using cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls to start seedlings in.  I thought it was a great idea. Cut them to the size you need.






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