Recently, gardening has become very popular again. Luckily, this time around, those involved in the garden culture are way more aware of sustainability and making the most of their spaces. Thanks to garden centers, such as the one that Rosemary, Chive, and Bay work at, gardeners are becoming more educated on subjects such as growing and maintaining a healthy, thriving, effective garden, due to the wide variety of classes and informational seminars that are offered. Gardeners are more interested in how they get their food and where it comes from, if it is organic, or if it is not genetically engineered (which was discussed in previous blogs).
In the struggle with sustaining the environment, there have been many new trends in gardening that are specifically for creating green spaces in places where there isn’t much green anymore, such as urban vegetable gardening and small space gardening. Not only are these trends very good for the environment, the more green the better, there is also economic input. There are many companies dedicated to solely assisting in urban and small space gardening.
Also, gardeners and consumers are starting to be more into buying local and supporting small businesses that practice sustainable farming. Some people attend weekly farmers markets and buy strictly local or sign up with local farms to get a weekly box of produce delivered. The produce is always seasonal, which means not strawberries in December and no peas in August but it prevents long distance imports and exports that create pollution and allow for old produce consumption.
Another step towards growing sustainably, is providing a “healthy” environment. By healthy, I mean they create a habitat for insects such as mason bees, ladybugs, praying mantises, and/or lace wings for natural solutions to pest/disease problems rather than using damaging chemicals. Due to the decrease in bee populations around the world, many gardeners are setting up bee hives around their yards and enjoying both the honey and they are helping sustain the environment.
In an effort to decrease the amount of money, chemicals, and labor to increase sustainability of a green space, many gardeners are learning to effectively use their spaces. Often, many gardeners are battling home owners associations, in the larger neighborhoods, that regulate what you can grow and how tall it can get. To accommodate these issues, growers are creating natural hybrids of their plants such as “fruit cocktail” trees with four different fruit varieties on one tree. Also, they are coming out with mini dwarf (avg. 10′), dwarf (avg. 10′-12′), semi dwarf (avg. 15′-18′), and regular (20’+) height trees to accommodate size limitations. Also, in some places where there is not much space for a large all around garden including ornamental plants, edible plants, flowering trees, and fruiting trees, many people are choosing to grow edible landscapes. These often include replacing usually ornamental plants with vegetables and fruits that also double as ornamentals. F0r example, some people choose to plant blueberries instead of boxwoods, some choose culinary kale rather than ornamental kale, and many mix herbs as green buffers between their perennials. Perennials are plants that live longer than two years, that do not need to be replaced by a new plant every year. Also, some gardeners, instead of attempting to maintain an unsustainable lawn with many fertilizers, chemicals, moss combatants, weed control, etc. they are opting for a lower maintenance rock garden with ground cover plants that crawl and cover rocky areas, and drought tolerant plants are planted to reduce (not eliminate) the need for watering.
Due to programs such as the one that is discussed in the peer reviewed article, Sense and Sustainability, which this post is in reference to, and school horticulture classes, and school greenhouses, younger generations are also learning about sustainable gardening, global health, and where their food comes from. Many children nowadays are also involved at home, with their parents or guardians that have hopped onto the gardening train in the past few years. Cities are also encouraging setting aside space for gardens and are even commonly implementing community gardens in different neighborhoods where everyone willing to contribute can and then they also benefit from the harvested crop.