Marin IJ Articles
February 8, 2014
'Sustainable gardening." That sounds about as drab as a gray school uniform or an old beige sofa. But that isn't it at all.
Sustainable gardening is about choosing to create a beautiful garden — edible, ornamental or both — that is in harmony with our natural ecosystem. It is a matter of bringing a mindfulness and care to design choices that will create not only healthy vegetables and beautiful flowers in the small bit of Earth in our backyards, but will also help to promote the diversity and health of our region and even our planet. This is truly a case of "Think Globally, Act Locally." How often do you actually get to have such a profound effect with very little effort?
There are several basic principles of sustainable gardening. We need to build soil, conserve water, invite wildlife, make smart plant choices and contribute to the health of our community by saving energy, reducing waste and eliminating chemicals, pesticides and pollutants from our gardens. Here are a few of the ways this can be done.
Saving energy, reducing waste, eliminating chemicals. If you do the things outlined here, you will already be a long way to achieving this goal. Your rich soil will not require synthetic fertilizers and your thoughtful planting choices, as well as willingness to live with less than perfection, will eliminate pesticides. You also can reduce your contribution to greenhouse gasses by choosing hand-powered tools whenever possible, by using solar-powered outdoor lighting or water features, and by growing your own organic food.
Don't worry! You will not be left to muddle through this by yourself. The Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Garden Coalition has produced an excellent online publication, "The Bay Friendly Gardening Guide," a 70 page how-to guide that can be found at www.bayfriendlycoalition.org/bfguidedetail.shtml. This information-packed guide is not just a technical manual, but covers such topics as gardening for a sense of place and gardening through the seasons.
Another helpful resource is the free public seminar to be given by Marin Master Gardener Betsy McGee from 11 a.m. to noon Feb. 8 at the San Anselmo Public Library. She will be highlighting some of the major points in the guide and explaining how to implement the ideas.
The University of California Marin Master Gardeners are sponsored by UC Cooperative Extension. For questions about gardening, plant pests or diseases, call 473-4204 from 9 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. weekdays, or bring in samples or pictures to 1682 Novato Blvd., Suite 150B, Novato.