Traditional agriculture is unsustainable for the planet. That is why many are converting to regenerative agriculture. This endeavors to copy nature. It hence makes the farms to be more sustainable and greatly beneficial to the flora and fauna that thrive on them.
Whereas certain gardens have smaller eco-footprints than the larger acres of farmlands, every benefit adds up to the mitigation of climate change. Your backyard garden as a matter of fact may also be regenerative.
“Regenerative gardening is the practice of the art of gardening in a manner that is wholesome. It endeavors to revive the soil, our bodily systems, the living environment, and the planet in totality,” opines Shangwen Chiu Kennedy.
He is a landscape and an urban designer who also doubles up as a managing director of the Inn at the Moonlight Beach. This is the world’s first-ever WELL-certified hotel. The hotel has its own biodynamic garden that is very large.
“Regenerative agriculture aims at reverting nutrients into the soil. In this way, it lets the plant’s capture and stores the carbon from the atmospheric carbon dioxide into the soil. As it does so, it improves the health of the soil, ups the crop yields, upholds the resilience of the water, and boosts the density of the nutrients. All these give rise to more nutritious foods.”
- 1 RELEVANT STORIES
- 2 10 TIPS TO PRACTISE REGENERATIVE GARDENING
- 2.1 Tip I: Cut back on tilling
- 2.2 Tip II: Draw your plant feeds from the composite piles
- 2.3 Tip III: Plant diverse kinds of crops
- 2.4 Tip IV: Implement companion planting
- 2.5 Tip V: Make use of the cover crops as much as you can
- 2.6 Tip VI: Incorporate some flowers
- 2.7 Tip VII: Space the seeds appropriately
- 2.8 Tip VIII: Trim your lawns
- 2.9 Tip IX: Garden in line with the moon
- 2.10 Tip X: Be persistent
The practice of regenerative gardens requires a little bit more upfront effort and investments compared to regular gardening. According to Acadia Tucker though, it is worth the effort. She is a farmer and the author of Growing Perennial Foods, Tiny Victory Gardens, and Growing Good Food.
“As soon as you put up this ecosystem, you will find it a lot cheaper to grow food,” she adds, “From my personal experience, the weeds drastically reduce whereas the soil is healthier. I hence do not have to fertilize the garden or use external weed killers and pesticides. I just have to do it right and it takes care of itself thereafter. That is regenerative gardening.”
Whereas the impact of humble gardening may appear insignificant in the wake of the ongoing climate change crisis, the effects do compound in the long run. “On your personal small-scale farm, you are in fact putting in a great individual effort to undo the overall adverse impacts of climate change. I really like to extrapolate that further,” Tucker states. She adds, “Pause for a moment that if your neighbors and entire family were similarly putting in a similar effort in their backyards, the cumulative impacts can be really powerful.”
Are you inspired and intrigued? Continue reading here below to gain the tips you may have to look up to so that you may practice regenerative gardening in your yards:
10 TIPS TO PRACTISE REGENERATIVE GARDENING
Tip I: Cut back on tilling
The most important aspect of regenerative gardening is healthy soil. “Before growing anything, you have to see to it that the soil is fertile and hydrated,” states Kennedy. “We did spend 6 months to work the soil alone at the biodynamic farm that is located at the inn prior to planting anything. The most suitable soil has to be properly hydrated and contain a thriving population of worms and microbes.”
To boost the health of the soil before planting, many gardeners resort to tilling their lands. This entails turning the soil over and breaking it into smaller portions. Nonetheless, Tucker advises against it.
“My first advice to homeowners is to stop it,” she states. “It is in your best interest to preserve the flora and fauna that already exists in the soil. Each time you till the soil, you damage the soil tremendously. At the same time, you damage the small pockets of the soil that harbor all these wonderful microorganisms that hasten the growth of the foods.”
Tilling also gives up the carbon dioxide that soil has and releases the same to the atmosphere. This of course is harmful to the environment as a whole.
Rather, Kennedy and Tucker jointly recommend that you use a method dubbed sheet mulching. “This entails the laying of moistened cardboard atop the garden beds. Thereafter, you overlay the cardboard using green materials like vegetable and grass clippings.”
Kennedy further recommends that you leave the soil undisturbed under the sheet mulch for roughly 6 weeks prior to planting. This is to prevent it from drying out or losing the volatile elements to the atmosphere or the sun.
“In this way, you get to re-feed and regenerate the soil so that it is revived for another spate of planting,” she adds.
Tip II: Draw your plant feeds from the composite piles
Feeding your plants from the compost materials is yet another soil-health practice you may want to attempt. It is also highly recommended by the experts.
“Great compositing practices do aid in amending the existing soils,” opines Kennedy. “It also slows down or completely negates the need to use organic fertilizers, even those that are organic,” adds Ian Frederick, a landscape expert at the Rhodes Institute.
This institute is a not-for-profit organization that is devoted to the growth of organic movements via intensive research, consumer education, and the training of farmers.
“For the sake of the small home gardening 101, you may make do with the readily-blended compost and organic soils to blend them with your soils,” says Kennedy. “At the same time, kickstart the task of recycling the organic wastes from your home and the gardens. Move ahead to generate your own compost to restore the health of the soil on a regular basis. The use of a compost bin or a small rotating composter may do well in the cramped up spaces.”
Kennedy makes use of two different means for hastening the process of compositing. The first is the veri-compositing that entails the use of the earthworms to convert materials that are rich in nutrients into forms that may be easily absorbed by plants. Examples of these materials are green crop residues and food wastes.
Tip III: Plant diverse kinds of crops
One of the hallmarks of regenerative gardening is the diversity of the crops in use. “Planting the same kinds of crops in the same locales year in year out depletes those soils due to the heavy drawing of the same nutrients,” opines Kennedy.
“By switching the exact positions of the nightshades like the peppers, eggplants, tomatoes for the umbels like fennel, parsnips, and the carrots in one season and then to the legumes in the third seasons, you enable a balance of nutrients and give the soil the opportunity to regenerate so that the nightshades may grow again.”
Tucker further observes that planting many kinds of crops not just one after every season but at the same time, may also insure your crops from all kinds of pests.
“In case you sustain a pest invasion that affects one crop, you still have other crops to look up to. Also, you will most likely never have to use herbicides and pesticides,” she suggests.
Tip IV: Implement companion planting
Companion planting is yet another awesome technique that growers may look up to. “This is growing many combinations of plants at the same time so that they become a little bit more productive due to their symbolic nature with regards to their growing needs and nutrient requirements,” states Kennedy.
“Some relevant examples could be chards, strawberries, and onions; squash, beans, and corn; marigold, basil, and tomatoes, among others.”
Planting crops in a strategic manner like this further negates the need for the use of pesticides. Tucker, for instance, plants radishes near her bok choy given that the flea beetles that would otherwise devour her chok boys do consume the radishes. She does not have to harvest that at all though. The technique is called ‘trap cropping.’
Mixing the aromatic plants with the desired vegetables and fruits achieves the same end. Tucker states, “Given that the strong smell of the herbs tend to deter the bugs and the larger animals like the bunnies and the deer. It is not wholly reliable though,” warns Tucker. “An old farmer’s adage exists that says, ‘you plant some for you and some for the thieves.’”
Tip V: Make use of the cover crops as much as you can
The term ‘cover crops’ refers to crops that are intended to offer adequate protection and to enhance the quality of the soil instead of being harvested. Inasmuch as these crops are widely used in regenerative agriculture, they are quite daunting to make do with, in a small garden.
“Cover cropping in smaller gardens may take a little bit longer and incur lots of effort than an ordinary gardener may comfortably expend,” Tucker says. “On a larger scale though, there are awesome machines called crimpers that are hooked to tractors and are utilized in flattening the cover crops, killing it in place, really. The machine is not really convenient when deployed on a small scale.”
To get round the issue, she recommends making use of a cover crop that may be easily killed off, naturally and preferably in the winter. This approach however only works well in case you reside in cooler places that suffer from frost.
Specifically, Tucker insists that you plant leguminous crops like clovers and field peas. “They relate well with bacteria and lay the role of fixing Nitrogen into the soil,” she elaborates. “It is hence a great way of fertilizing your soil naturally.”
Other alternative cover crops to make use of are those that have really long roots such as winter rye or grass. “Those are generally better for the soils that are hard and compacted. That is because the deep roots will usually penetrate the soil and break it up without the need for tilling,” Tucker notes.
“And when the grass finally dies off, all the organic matter remains underground without necessarily disturbing the soil. This is really hard to implement.”
Kenney, in the meantime, suggests that you growing cover crops that may be harvested weekly. “At the facility, we often grow micro-greens like a sunflower. These sprout as green cover crops that may be harvested within a week or so,” she states. “The roots of the crops generate organic matter that enriches the soil nutrient mix.”
Tip VI: Incorporate some flowers
Kennedy and Tucker both prefer adding some flowers to their produce gardens. That is given that they can enrich the health of the ecosystem considerably.
“Growing food crops for the pollinators is truly significant because it has become overwhelmingly popular in the past years. The extensive use of pesticides has killed many insects into extinction as well as other animals and birds that feed on them,” notes Tucker.
“Thus converting your garden into a pollinator’s haven is as great as enhancing the health of your soil.”
Tip VII: Space the seeds appropriately
How you space your seeds is yet another great consideration. Kennedy proposes intensive planting. This entails the planting of many crops together.
“It empowers us to optimize the available spaces, stifle the growth of the weeds shade the soil, limit soil erosion, and retain the moisture contents,” she adds.
Tip VIII: Trim your lawns
John Long, a landscape expert suggests that you mow your lawn to diverse heights as long as you do not annoy your resident’s association. Keep the lawn at the periphery a little bit taller.
“Cut an area of your lawn higher and those around the gardens low,” he states. That way, you will prevent the rodents from encroaching into your gardens given that they love privacy.
Tip IX: Garden in line with the moon
Kennedy advocates for aligning your gardening with the lunar cycles. “The leading chance that the plants at the Inn many take advantage of to restore themselves is when we reap fruits and flowers twice a week during the full and the new moon. In this way, we enable the garden to rest and regenerate,” she notes.
“At such times, the gravitational pull of the moon is strongest. We also take advantage to water our gardens deeper. This enables the roots of our plants to get deeper while making their trunks stronger.”
Tip X: Be persistent
As you tackle this regenerative gardening, Tucker notes that chances are high that you might lose crops but insists you should never give up.
“In my capacity as a professional farmer and gardener, she observes that she experiences such losses from time to time.” She further adds, “Gardening can indeed be stressful because for a large part you deal with elements like weather, you have no control over. You nonetheless may have to look at each season to make some improvements,” she states.
“Take stock of what never happened the other time and how you may possibly improve the same. In case one faltered, attempt something fresh as long as it does not require you to till.”