The garden is a great place to get back to nature and feel in tune with the environment. Make sure that you are carrying out environmentally sound practices in your own patch of nature. Doing your own gardening is good for several reasons. It is great for the body, with all the stretching, digging, weeding, and squatting up and down. Gardening has also been shown to affect mental health positively. It can be meditative to dig over a patch of land, in preparation for planting, and it is certainly spiritual to grow your own vegetables and then enjoy eating them. Here are some ideas on how to keep the ecological balance through responsible gardening.
Conserving water is vital. Although we live in the land of the rainy season when at times we may feel we don’t want to see water again, we can still take steps to conserve water to avoid the use of water pumps, and to make our lives easier in the hot, dry season. Seems we are going to have a particularly dry season this year, so get started. Use a water butt to collect water. This rainwater can be used for plants and washing garden implements such as pots and tools. Remember, water first thing in the morning, or last thing in the evening. Any other time and much of the water will be lost to evaporation.
Even bath water and washing-up water can be employed for plants. In this case it is better if you used environmentally sensitive products as harsh chemicals will be absorbed by your plants. Watering only when you need to will also encourage plants to develop their deep roots, rather than lots of shallow roots. When watering, direct the water straight onto the roots of the plant, not the leaves, or again you will be wasting. And don’t forget when planting that a layer of mulch, organic or gravel will assist moisture retention in the soil.
Organic waste should be converted into mulch on a compost heap. Anything from the kitchen, or the garden, that will bio-degrade should be put to good use. Kitchen waste, grass cuttings and weeds, can all be tossed on the heap and will become your own source of valuable mulch over time.
Minimise non-bio-degradable products in the garden. Try to avoid so many plastic pots and use alternative materials like stone and bamboo instead. They are more environmentally friendly and look better too. On the other hand utilize non-bio-degradable items again in the garden rather than throwing them away. The tops of soft drink bottles can become mini-propagators, and yoghurt pots can be turned into seedling pots. Whenever you re-use like this, do ensure you clean thoroughly to avoid growing moulds or transmitting diseases to your plants.
Minimise the use of chemicals. It is absolutely possible to garden using only organic means. Your plants and produce will be healthier for you to eat in the long run so why not give it a go. Even if you think that you are only treating a certain plant with chemicals, the run-off will go into the earth and ultimately affects other plants in your garden, and even eventually the whole eco-system.
Although manicured gardens are a trademark of Bali, it is also environmentally sensible to leave some areas of untamed, random growth, even in your garden. These parts are ideal habitats for beneficial wildlife such as ladybirds and beetles, which in turn eat the pests that ruin your plants and fruits. Besides, who has seen a firefly in a sculpted garden? I certainly have in the wilder areas further out, beyond the hotels and paddy fields.
Try to use environmentally sound materials in your garden. Concrete is not only ugly, but the least ecologically conscious choice for your garden. Where you can use reclaimed items, they often look more interesting as well as giving you more peace of mind. Otherwise think about the impact on the environment of your choices when choosing items like stones, pebbles, gravel and timber.
Lighting your garden doesn’t have to be of the flashing neon variety. Fairy lights look pretty but think of the cost, ecologically and financially. Make your own banana leaf candle holders and buy environmentally friendly candles. Some torches can use recycled oil. And there are even solar-powered alternative lights now which soak up the sun’s rays in the day and radiate out at night.
Get your kids involved in the garden, they are the future as we know. What child doesn’t enjoy getting filthy digging, or soaked doing the watering? Plus if you can instill in them the pleasures of gardening at an early age it encourages a general, wider love for nature and respect for the planet. The more green-fingers, the better!
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