Imagine your landscape in tune with natural cycles and rhythms, filled with a balance of plants, animals, and other organisms that allow it to thrive with little help on your part.
Regenerative gardening can make that dream come true.
Regenerative gardening and biodiversity
You can plant rows of hybrids and install invasive box store specials. Or, you can create an environment that supports biodiversity, reduces pests and diseases, increases pollination rates, sequesters carbon, and creates a nurturing space in your backyard.
You can make regenerative gardening a part of your landscape with these simple tasks:
While some birds, such as jays, will damage your tomato and fruit crops, many others, including chickadees, phoebes, and wrens, will take a big bite out of your insect population.
Composting your kitchen and garden waste adds plant nutrients, improves soil structure, and feeds helpful soil microorganisms, and composting is free.
Cut the chemicals
Natural cycles keep pests and diseases in check. Chemical herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides interrupt those natural cycles, while most organic gardening products do not. Integrated pest management (IPM) can help you win those battles without nuking your yard.
During the dormant season, plant cover crops and green manures to feed beneficial soil bacteria, reduce erosion, and minimize weeds. Clovers, blackeyed peas, and other legumes make excellent cover crops as they add nitrogen to the surrounding soil. And sturdy fava bean roots make short work of compacted soil.
Herbs and flowers
Diversify your landscape by adding herbs and flowers. Intersperse your ornamental plants and edible crops with flowers of various colors, sizes, and shapes. Dill, marigolds, rosemary, sweet alyssum, thyme, and other herbs and flowers attract beneficial insects, such as honey bees and hoverflies. These garden helpers reduce the number of pests in your garden while increasing your harvest. And fresh herbs are always good to have on hand!
A thick layer of clean mulch stabilizes soil temperatures, retains moisture, reduces weeds, and improves soil structure. You can often get mulch for free from local tree trimmers. Just be sure to keep it away from tree trunks.
Nab those natives
Native plants already know how to live successfully in your region. Adding them to your landscape provides food for beneficial insects and reduces your workload.
Paths for peds
Walking on the soil compacts it, making life more difficult for delicate plant roots. A simple path can protect plants, microorganisms, earthworms, and other aspects of your regenerated garden.
Digging the soil damages the fungal networks that feed our plants. After harvesting, let an area go fallow for a season to rest and recover. And replace that lawn with a self-sustaining meadow.
Take the test
You need to know what is in your soil before adding anything. Over-fertilizing is expensive, destructive, and hard to correct. An inexpensive soil test tells you exactly what is in your soil, what is needed, and what has reached toxic levels. Just Google “soil test” to find a lab near you, or use the University of Massachusetts soil test lab. Sadly, those pretty plastic tubes you see in garden centers are not (yet) accurate enough to be helpful.
We cannot fix everything overnight, but we can all take small steps that move us in the right direction. Regenerative gardening is one of those steps.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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