Home Gardening | Tips For A Sustainable Start

Planting Day | April 15
Cucumber in Bloom | May 21

With the days getting longer – due to the season and because of quarantine, am I right? – I’ve been tending to my vegetable garden more and more. It’s a fact, no matter how you get started with a home garden, you’re taking the right steps to a more sustainable food system. But there are a few ways to really maximize your efforts.

Starting from seed

For the first time this year, I started my vegetable plants from seed rather than buying plants at Lowe’s or a nursery. Starting from seed promotes a more sustainable food system considering that plants have to be grown at another location and must travel to the storefront you will purchase from, and be tended to there. When you choose to start from seed you also have more options to choose from – from organic to heirloom varieties and beyond. This helps to increase the variety of produce that you plant and eat, which is also a step in the sustainable direction.

Beyond promoting a sustainable food system, starting from seed benefits your wallet! Full transparency, I purchased these seeds (Boston Pickling Cucumber, Tomato Varieties, Marketmore Cucumber, Rainbow Bell Pepper) from Amazon, which obviously isn’t the most sustainable option. However, with the stay-at-home order, I felt it to be the most appropriate option. In the end, I spent about $40 on almost 700 seeds. A ready-to-plant vegetable purchased at Lowe’s or the like can cost anywhere from $5 to $30 a plant! I have about 20 plants in my garden and gave several of my extra seeds to friends and family so that they could start their own seeds as well. So that’s about five families who didn’t purchase a ready-to-plant item.

Fertilize with your own compost

If you’re not familiar with at-home composting, check out my previous post to see if it might be for you. Composting is a great way to promote a sustainable food system because it reduces your own family’s food waste *and* prevents you from purchasing less-sustainable fertilizers and spending your hard earned cash twice over. Compost is rich in nutrients that feed your plants all the good stuff naturally.

Repurpose and reuse

If you’re looking to start a garden for the first time, you may be excited to design a fancy vegetable bed. But not so fast! Take inventory of old stones, scrap wood, and other materials around your shop or home. You don’t need anything fancy! This year, I’m trying out some old flower pots for two smaller tomato plants.

Choose your crops wisely

All eaters can promote a more sustainable food system by choosing foods that are harvested locally and are in season. The same goes for home gardeners – choose plants that thrive in your environment and the current season. For my Louisiana readers, this is a great planting guide from the LSU AgCenter. It gives you information on what grows well and when, how to plant, and how to rotate crops year-round.

Have you started a garden or brought home some plant babies to help pass the time during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order? I would love to hear how you’ve been getting your hands dirty!

Thanks for reading,

Allison

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