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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Discover the Green Path to Wellness

Gardening does wonders for your physical and mental health. Few activities can match the pleasure of deadheading delphiniums in the evening or harvesting herbs from a window box.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables can minimize your carbon footprint, too. A single store-bought tomato has a carbon cost of only 0.32kg CO2 — roughly the equivalent of driving1.6km in your car. As low as that number is, a garden lowers it even more.

Running a permaculture garden can help you connect with the community. Folks from around town will love getting stuck in and will relish the opportunity to buy fresh produce straight from a green thumb in their area.

Permaculture Gardening

Permaculture gardening is currently experiencing a revival — and for good reason. Permaculture gardens are low maintenance and utilize natural resources rather than artificial fertilizers and pesticides. This low-impact approach to gardening privileges synergistic relationships in your garden and encourages (some!) wildlife into your space.

You can create a permaculture garden by utilizing as many perennial crops as possible. Perennials form the backbone of permaculture planting, as you don’t have to head to the store every year to find the right seeds for your plot. Perennial fruits and vegetables — like asparagus, rhubarb, and artichoke — are extremely hardy.

Consider planting a few fruit trees and bushes if you want to sweeten the deal. Berry bushes — like blackberries, raspberries, and currants — attract pollinators and serve as a natural fence in your patch. Remember to plant plenty of cover crops like clover and vetch, as these will protect your plants throughout the year.

If you’re new to gardening, use the USDA’s plant hardiness zoneto guide your decision-making. This will ensure that your crops thrive in your garden and will reduce the amount of time and resources you have to spend on upkeep.

Digging for Health

Getting your hands dirty is a great way to connect with nature and boost your health. Some progressive doctors even prescribe the “nature pill” as a way to encourage people to spend more time outdoors. This is because time in nature can treat chronic conditions such as anxiety and depression while lowering stress.

Permaculture gardening may be particularly beneficial for your mental health. Low-maintenance gardens don’t require constant attention, meaning you can check in whenever you have free time. This is a particularly rewarding style of horticulture if you have a busy job or are raising a family.

Eating your own fresh produce can do wonders for your health, too. Filling your fridge with a month’s worth of store-bought vegetables is impractical, but it’s easy to up your intake of leafy greens when you can harvest from your own backyard. Increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and stroke.

Community Produce

Tending your own vegetable patch is innately rewarding. However, sharing your produce with your neighbors can help you connect with your community while boosting your neighborhood’s health.

If you feel uncomfortable inviting folks into your own backyard, consider starting a community allotment space instead. Community gardens are a wonderful place to meet new people who share your love for permaculture gardening. You can even use the site to teach others how to garden sustainably in an urban space.

You can still plant a permaculture garden if you’re working with a limited space. Take some crops indoors with you and make full use of window planters and porches. Just remember to put in your larger plants first and only plant what you can manage — there’s no use in planting trees and bushes in small spaces if you’re unable to tend them when they reach maturity.

Sustainability

Permaculture gardening is a low-waste, low-carbon way to tend your greenspace and produce your own food. This is innately sustainable, as you aren’t adding anything to your garden that wouldn’t exist in nature.

Christina Ergas, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee, explains that this approach can help you further climate justice, too. Ergas says that the tenets of permaculture gardening are “caring for the Earth, caring for the people and sharing the surplus.” This can strengthen underserved communities and the natural ecosystem.

When tending your permaculture garden, give your plants time to grow but don’t be afraid to remove crops that don’t perform well. It’s easy to feel guilty when throwing out bare-root asparagus crowns, but doing so will make room for more productive crops. Try composting the unproductive crops you root out and use the resulting fertilizer to fuel the garden. This will secure the long-term sustainability of your garden and help you discover plants that are low-maintenance and high-yielding.

Conclusion

Permaculture gardens are the pinnacle of eco-friendly gardening. They all but take care of themselves and require minimal resources on your behalf. Start your permaculture garden with hardy crops like asparagus and build around berry bushes or fruit trees. Try to share your garden with the local community, as this will build an ethos of sustainable gardening in your neighborhood.

Read more Savor articles from Green Living Magazine.

Header photo by Tania Malréchauffé on Unsplash

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