A zero-waste garden may not be something you think about often. But any kind of waste can be detrimental to our environment.
The importance of avoiding waste isn’t lost on anyone. Every piece of disposable waste that goes to landfills creates one more burden for the planet, and as we can all see, there is only so much Mother Earth can take. The process of recycling where possible, buying items with less packaging, and finding alternative fueling methods is certainly a good start, but there is always more we can do.
One of the least thought of areas that can best assist – and will be assisted by – our green efforts is the garden. It’s genuinely impressive to see how this patch of land can be nourished by entirely renewable sources – and if managed correctly, it can also assist you by taking some financial strain away. Below are some examples of how waste from elsewhere can be repurposed to keep your garden green and growing.
Composting and Other Options
It is a hugely beneficial move to start a compost heap (or a composting bin) in your garden. This cuts food waste dramatically and provides nutrients and microorganisms to your soil and plants.
Be careful about what you put on the pile, though, because some items can be put to best use by staying separate. After breakfast (and possibly other meals), make a point of collecting eggshells and coffee grounds and crushing them up together. The former is rich in calcium, the latter in nitrogen and, when tilled into the soil in Fall, will see a high-quality environment for plants in spring.
Another alternative to a zero-waste garden is using a vermicomposting bin. Many of the same food scraps as well as some paper and cardboard can be utilized here as well. Once the worms are established, not only can you use the castings from your vermicomposting bin be used in your gardens, but so can the worms themselves.
Using Mulch in a Zero-Waste Garden
It is more than possible to buy quality mulch for use in your garden, and its benefits are undeniable; cutting down on the amount you need to water, keeping pests under control, and more. Still, it costs money to buy those big bags, and they are not easy to transport.
Consider mulching with waste items that would otherwise be discarded. After every gutter cleaning, ask to keep the leaves that will have been removed and use them. Old newspapers, cardboard and even natural-fiber cat litter (used or not!) can be pressed into service as mulch.
Using wheat straw as a mulch serves two purposes. It helps with weed retention and can be tilled back in to the garden to break down for a more workable soil.
ReGrow Your Produce
Whether you are stripping leaves for a salad or chopping celery for a casserole, you can make use of all of the vegetables you have bought by replanting it to grow your own. The end piece of these vegetables is never used in cooking and is all too easy to discard. After all, percentage-wise, it must cost a few cents, so why not compost it, right?
With a few days in a shallow bowl of water, that end part will begin to sprout roots and can then be planted into the soil, giving you a sustainable way of growing free vegetables. Similarly, if potatoes or garlic bulbs have begun to sprout, plant them in soil and you will have fresh vegetables for the kitchen in no time. This takes a zero-waste garden to a whole new level.
Final Thoughts on a Zero-Waste Garden
A zero-waste garden is simple to achieve and a frugal approach to not only growing your own food, but also giving mother nature a hand in keeping the environment cleaner. What ways do you incorporate a zero-waste garden on your homestead? Share your thoughts and ideas.