A well designed garden or farm does not require external inputs once established. Many growers have become reliant on fertilisers (synthetic or bought organic options) and external materials such as composts, mulches. Most buy new plants, seeds etc. over time. But once a truly sustainable system has been established, the garden should be a closed loop system, where few, if any, external inputs are required.
Breaking reliance on external inputs is, perhaps, one of the most challenging things about making growing efforts truly sustainable. But in all but the very smallest of container gardens, it should be possible, over time, to reach this goal.
Here are some steps to take to move closer to this type of self-sufficiency on your property:
- Create diverse, stable planting schemes with plants which aid one another, establish a balanced ecosystem, and replenish nutrients in the soil.
- Don’t dig or till, maintain a healthy soil ecosystem.
- Use plenty of perennial plants (and propagate them).
- Collect seeds from annuals (and include some which self-seed readily).
- Manage water effectively, use rainwater.
- Create your own compost on site – composting everything you can.
- Collect and utilise all biomass grown on the site (from clippings, to autumn leaves, to pruned (and perhaps chipped or shredded) branches). Mulch, chop and drop, make liquid feeds etc…
While many gardeners may use external inputs to get started in a new garden, in an established garden, you may already be closer to a closed-loop system than you think. So if you want to have a truly sustainable garden, make sure you are working towards breaking your reliance on external inputs. If you need some help, please do get in touch.