About the SFMGA

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

"Green" Vegetable Gardening

Try it, you'll like it!

Green gardening is an attitude, a holistic approach that seeks to put more back into the soil than is removed by planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables. By constantly improving the soil, a sustainable balance is achieved. Such stewardship of the soil is accomplished by

  • Composting and mulching, which improves water holding capability and enriches the soil without commercial fertilizers
  • Introducing compost regularly, which adds beneficial micro-organisms that aid in keeping pathogenic organisms at bay
  • Employing green cover crops, which improves seed friability, oxygen levels, and drainage once the green manure is turned over.

Diversity is another key to gardening green. Plant several kinds of plants in the same general space. Techniques that improve diversity include

  • Planting different varieties of vegetable and flowers in close proximity to each other
  • Planting companion plants that are beneficial to each other
  • Planting dedicated beds instead of long rows
  • Rotating crops from season to season

Diversity techniques confuse predatory insects, preventing them from gaining a foothold in the garden, help even out nutrient and water requirements of the vegetables, and prevent soil exhaustion. Because inorganic fertilizers are not used, vegetable plants tend to grow stronger and deeper root systems that are healthier and more drought tolerant.

Choosing smarter varieties of vegetables is a good practice as well. Resistance to disease and pests has been introduced into varieties that the green gardener can easily find in seed catalogues. Heirloom varieties are also attractive options. These varieties (and their seeds) have been handed down over the years. Heirlooms have been adapted to the local climate and have a certain degree of evolutionary persistence.

Search for Seed Savers Exchange at www.seedsavers.org

This article provided courtesy of the Fayette County Master Gardeners in Lexington, KY