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Sustainable Gardening and Maintenance

By Chris Smith, Happy Gardeners on behalf of Thurgoona Community Garden

To define sustainability poses an enigma, there is no accepted definition; however I believe the best modern description available would be the effort required by a person or group of persons acting together to produce and manage edible food groups in a manner that requires the least amount of maintenance, yet still produce a high yield.

Sustainable Gardening with regard to the community can be best implemented by means of Education, Knowledge, Participation and Familiarity.

Education is vital and is the means by which we inform the local community of the best available methods to increase crop yields, lower maintenance time and equipment costs by the implementation of the best values of both Permaculture and Monoculture styles of gardening.

Knowledge is the gathering of that information which we glean by the experience gained over time, and by the acceptance of the help of others who specialise in the fields of Arboriculture and Horticulture.

Participation in gardening is the act we perform by growing those food groups that we intend to either consume individually or by donating that food to other persons more needy or wanting for their consumption.

Familiarisation with plants, herbs and vegetables, fruits and trees, is improved by learning, by that knowledge we have gained and by the participation in the act of growing crops in a sustainable gardening atmosphere.

Maintenance of sustainable garden crops is by far the largest time management area we have to consider, and by use of the correct methods of planting, crop rotation, position and crop types used we can minimise this area considerably and as a result lower water consumption and power usage.

Being smart in a garden by designing and constructing an effective crop area at the onset is a major consideration which will assist you to lower your carbon footprint and lessen the impact on the environment.

It is easy to convert your way of thinking from the old established methods of yesteryear to the more acceptable, easier manageable and more effective manner of today; trees planted near crops, not only produce shade for those valuable foods, but help create a microclimate which requires less water, less maintenance and is partly self-sustainable.  

The planting of the correct crop in this microclimate not only produces organisms which improve soil values, but also crop growth, this in turn uses less water by soil filtration and creates oxygen for the atmosphere.