UC Master Gardeners

Simple, sustainable solutions for your garden

UC Master GardenerSeptember 18, 2013 

Sustainable practices for your vegetable garden include planting only what you need and can maintain, and decreasing or eliminating the use of pesticides and fertilizers.


Q: “Sustainable Gardening” is a term I hear all the time, but what is it exactly? — Jean, Paso Robles

A: “Sustainable” or “smart” gardening refers to an approach that embraces the principals of the sustainability movement — basically, meeting present needs without compromising the ability to meet the eventual needs of future generations. As far as your garden is concerned, it’s the practice of using your landscape in such a way that protects and enhances the natural resources there and globally.

There are many ways to incorporate sustainable gardening principles in the home garden. By focusing on the issues that are prominent in our area, such as water use, waste disposal and pollution, you can implement strategies that are in keeping with sustainability.

Reducing water use in the home garden can be tricky in our dry climate, but it is doable. Reducing or replacing nonnative lawn grasses, selecting native landscape plants, using drip irrigation and mulching are all ways in which the home gardener can help conserve water.

To lessen waste sent to the landfill, use a mulching lawn mower if you choose to have a lawn. Try composting to minimize yard and kitchen waste. Plant just what you need and can maintain. Keep food plants to a size and quantity that ensures most of the produce will be consumed or shared instead of discarded. Make an effort to use recycled materials for pots, borders or other garden structures as well.

Make a plan to reduce your use of chemicals to manage pests and disease. Overuse of pesticides and fertilizers can accumulate in the soil and seep into the water supply, thereby coming into contact with various living organisms. Not sure how to start? Master Gardeners can help.

To learn more about sustainable gardening, come to The Advice to Grow By workshop this Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 a.m. until noon. We will begin in the auditorium at 2156 Sierra Way, San Luis Obispo, with a presentation on Sustainable Landscaping given by Master Gardener Nancy Hartwick. After the indoor presentation we’ll proceed to the Garden of the Seven Sisters demonstration garden where you’ll see firsthand how sustainable gardening practices are put to use. Please wear appropriate footwear and outdoor apparel for the outdoor portion of the workshop.


Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners Web site at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo/ or e-mail mgsanluisobispo@ucdavis.edu.

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