Are you looking to grow your first garden this spring and want to be conscious of your environmental impacts while learning a new hobby? We at the Wardensville Garden Market salute you and want to offer a sustainable, ecologically mindful guide to growing your home garden.

1. Be Mindful of how you Sow your Seeds  Instead of sending waste straight to the landfill, think of ways you can upcycle those items and make them useful again! For example, empty egg cartons, cardboard toilet paper rolls, paper milk cartons, disposable cups, and to-go containers are all excellent materials to start seeds instead of buying new plastic trays.  

2. Sowing in Recycled Materials                                                                                     Make sure to add drainage to whatever material you choose; for example, when using egg cartons, poke a few small holes in the bottom of each egg cell so excess water can drain. Gravel and small rocks also work well as a drainage option in bigger vessels, such as milk cartons; this offers a buffer area, so water doesn’t get stuck in the soil and suffocate the plants. 

3. Composting like a Pro

Did you know that nearly half of all food produced in the United States gets thrown away? To combat my family’s impact on this issue, we started a backyard compost. Compost is any sort of decayed organic matter that is reused as plant fertilizer. You can collect food scraps that you would otherwise throw in the trash and use them to create fertile soil for your garden.

It’s a rule of thumb that no animal products should be going into your compost. For example, no dairy products, no meat products, and no eggs allowed (egg shells are okay if they are rinsed off all goo)! It is best not to add any pet waste to your compost because pet waste can carry harmful bacteria that can easily transfer to humans. Compost piles love to decompose things like fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds, dry leaves, and grass clippings. It is best to layer these varying items when building your compost pile, starting with sticks, straw, and wood chips, followed by kitchen waste, green leaves and grass clippings, and finally, dry, brown leaves. The last step is to water your compost generously each time you top the pile with brown leaves. Repeat this process over and over until there is enough material present for a foundation. It is important to mix your compost pile every few weeks.

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3. Save Your Seeds!                                                                                                                 At the end of a plant’s life cycle, they begin to flower, which allows them to release seeds in order to continue the species. Before they dry out, collect the seeds from the flowering plants and store them in a cool, dry place for next year’s planting season. Some seeds are easier to gather than others, which can prove more difficult due to size and plant location. Check out www.seedsavers.com for some more valuable information!

4. Refrain from Using Chemicals

The main reasons people choose to use synthetic chemicals in agriculture are to inhibit weed and pest pressure on the crops they grow. One way to combat unwanted insects is to introduce beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, into your garden because they will feast on all the pests while also pollinating along the way. Removing weeds by hand or with weeding tools is the most effective and environmentally friendly way to give your plants room to live and grow while also allowing them to uptake more nutrients from the soil.

5. Conserve Water 

The best ways you can conserve water and use this vital resource more efficiently is to remove wasteful sprinkler systems that use far more water than necessary and source your garden water from a collection of rainwater. Rainwater barrels are easy to acquire at just about any home improvement store, and there are many programs and organizations that will help provide and set up upcycled barrels for you! 

Sustainable thinking and action are essential, not only when working directly with the earth but also in everything you do. Taking the time to consume mindfully and prioritize the environment as an extension of yourself is the best way to live an abundant life. I wish you all peace and joy, and most of all, a plentiful growing season.

Abbye Prelip

Abbye Prelip

Agriculture Manager

My name is Abbye Prelip! Growing up in the holler, I adopted a green thumb early on, and have been plant-obsessed ever since. After completing a degree in Environmental Studies, I fell in love with sustainable agriculture, and now I get to play in the dirt as a career!

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