In this day and age of sustainability I am embarrassed to admit I could do more. It isn’t like we don’t make the attempt to be more mindful of our use and actions on our little blue planet. But full disclosure: we could do better.

I don’t want to beat myself up too badly. We do compost... albeit we pay to use our city’s composting program. And while this might seem like a check in the environmentally correct box, in reality it involves big trucks using large amounts of fuel going to distances farther than my back yard. That’s not really sustainable.

Sustainable Gardening Practices

Do we save water? Well, we don’t collect rainwater, which really would have been a great idea this past spring with all the torrential downpours followed by triple digit temps. We do, however, use drip irrigation for our plants and veggie gardens, water before the birds are up, and tip the scales in the direction of more native vs. non-native as well as drought tolerant plants.

We do indeed plant a vegetable garden which is better than driving to the store to get produce but only when you actually plant it. This year I balked at the veggie garden, preferring instead to plant flowers.

I know. I slid backwards on my sustainability there. But in my defense, my husband thinks vegetable is a four letter word and there is no physical way I can eat or preserve all the produce we... well... produce, so I cut way back. I did plant a few things like tomatoes and basil, but I didn’t sow nearly what I usually do.

Gardening Sustainably

We never use chemical pesticides, herbicides, or the like. I actually enjoy weeding (I’ve got a screw loose, I know) and as to the rest, we keep our plants healthy by incorporating plenty of organic matter at planting, space our plants, select disease resistant varieties when available, and mulch to retain moisture and keep roots cool.

We also almost exclusively, with the exception of vegetables, plant perennials. For one thing they are more economical than annuals and continue to thrive year after year. Our choices reflect our interest in using native plants, often drought tolerant ones while incorporating plants that encourage pollinators. Plus we harvest seeds from many of them or divide them to give to family and friends.

We also use an electric mower which, while it is less than sustainable, is better than using gas. The tire around my middle says I should be using an old push mower but let’s face it, I’m lazy.

Are we getting closer to a sustainable garden? The definition of sustainable is “avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.” I’m gonna say, no.

A little bit of accountability goes a long way ,even when you have a long way to go. But as the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” so too shall we continue to strive towards a more sustainable landscape.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.