Everyone, everywhere can garden regeneratively – whether you are living in an apartment with a raised garden bed on your patio, planting seeds in a community garden, or growing your entire dinner plate yourself. Yes, there’s technical expertise required, but gardening is also a remembrance of human ingenuity and connection to the land.
In fact, regenerative gardening is much more a cultural technique than it is a hobby for Home & Garden subscribers or vegetable-eating enthusiasts – Just look back generations and you’ll read stories of seed swaps, seed saving, and triumphant successes (and dismal failures) associated with growing food or flowers in tune with the land. To learn to garden is to learn to sway with the land as it is and as it could be. Let’s take a look at what regenerative gardening can bring to your table.
Why Regenerative Gardening
Gardening based on regenerative practices nourishes the soil and promotes growth in a way that reinforces and integrates into the surrounding ecosystem. The earth nourishes us with its dense soil and ripe fruits – these gardening practices allow us to give back.
Gardening regeneratively reduces the need for pesticides and insecticides (we’ll go into the full list of benefits later), by employing a wide range of techniques for healthy, biodiverse, nutrient-dense growth. Here are the basic principles:
Companion planting: Also called symbiotic planting, this method pairs crops that support one another together. Examples of this are the “Three Sisters,” pole beans, squash, and corn, which Indigenous peoples first learned to plant together as each plant contributes to the other’s potential.
Trap cropping. This involves planting crops that will attract insects and deter them from more vulnerable flora. Sunflowers are a great example of a plant that attracts (and distracts) insect life.
Variety planting. Planting a wide range of crops and circulating them from one growing season to the next helps replenish the soil and ensures that the same nutrients aren’t repeatedly depleted.
Composting. Using your own organic food waste to fertilize your garden is a great way to naturally promote crop growth and soil regeneration. Have a lidded bin lying around? Place it under your sink or your freezer, and start throwing in your food scraps.
Avoid tilling. Tilling is harsh and harmful to the soil. Instead, gardeners and farmers can use landscape cloth or mulch to prevent initial weed growth, and hand pull weeds that pop up. Not all weeds are “bad;” their presence is simply a symptom of soil health.When you use these practices the soil benefits, and so does the nutrition level on your plate!
- Gardening regeneratively yields better quality, healthier crops. Though it might take a bit of trial and error to get your garden up and running, your soil will thank you with plants that are able to grow heartily and consistently.
- You won’t need weed-killing chemicals. Pesticides are extremely harmful to the environment. They can contaminate water runoff and lead to water pollution, while also infecting the soil and reducing its ability to yield future crops. Regenerative gardening removes the need for these chemicals by introducing natural ways of staving off weed growth.
- Natural pest control. By planting certain aromatic crops around your garden, you’ll deter most of the wildlife that would otherwise be attracted to your abundance of fruits and veggies!
- Supports insect populations. Unfortunately, the use of insecticides has caused profound damage to the natural insect populations in our ecosystem. Planting pollinators like flowers in or around your garden helps strengthen and regrow the insect population.
- Less work for you. While starting your garden will require commitment, you’ll be happy to know that nature has a fine handle on plant growth if given the opportunity to thrive through regenerative practices. Using these techniques and more, you’ll spend less time managing weeds and insects and more time enjoying the fruits of your garden.
- Less waste. By re-using your own natural food waste and recycling it as compost, you’ll be able to significantly reduce the amount of waste generated and help nourish the soil at the same time.
- Supports our ecosystem. By generating more natural growth and promoting and creating healthier soil, regenerative gardening benefits our ecosystem as a whole and makes a small but meaningful difference towards our climate solution.
Gardening is a healthy challenge – and it’s well worth the time and energy. While one regenerative garden may seem inconsequential, imagine the positive impact life on earth would see if more and more people engaged in this life-giving practice.
You can learn how to garden with trained facilitators. Online classes are a great way to build up both your knowledge base and your confidence as you navigate your first regenerative garden. Learn about Kiss the Ground’s online regenerative gardening courses, from beginner-level to advanced.
Whether you’re here to improve your garden or simply learn how to get your hands in the soil, remember, everyone, everywhere can garden.