We all want to work with the planet when we garden but what does regenerative gardening mean and where did the idea come from?
Is it just another buzzword or is there more substance to it?
How Does Regenerative Agriculture Work?
Regenerative gardening is a form of regenerative agriculture.
That means a garden, that is managed regenerative, seeks to minimize emissions and waste. As with regenerative agriculture, the idea is to improve soil health using natural means and organic matter as opposed to wearing out the soil and then adding fertilizers.
This prevents damage to the soil’s microbiome and encourages fungi, invertebrates, bacteria, etc. to contribute to nutrient density and to boost crop yields naturally.
There are some key principles of these regenerative practices, so let’s take a look at the five key ideas for regenerative farming practices in your garden.
Protect Soil Health: Don’t Till
Anyone who wants to practice regenerative agriculture is going to be pleased to learn the first tip is going to save them a ton of effort.
When you dig up the soil, you destroy the soil structure, and the organic matter within releases carbon dioxide which can contribute to climate change.
The trick is to mow the soil, gently loosen it with a broadfork, and then hand-pulling any stubborn weeds as they arise. It’s way easier than tilling.
Make Healthy Soil: Feed It
Your garden bed will see improving soil health when you learn to nourish that soil.
You need to give back to the land for it to give to you in return and that means in your own regenerative garden, you need to add organic matter in the form of nutrients to your garden space – and we call that compost. (Learn how to compost at home, it’s super easy). It’s a great way to use your unwanted grass clippings too.
Just add 1-3 inches of compost until you have the soil covered and do it every fall and every spring. The soil organisms will love this.
Invite Helpful Wildlife In
If you want your food crops and plants to thrive, you need to help them pollinate and the best way to do that is to enlist some of nature’s helpers.
Invite bees into your garden (or use one of these beekeeping starter kits and get honey too).
Plant borders and ensure there are lots of flowers and the bees will come and so will butterflies! The more you make your garden friendly to helpful insects, the more they will visit and the better that your crops will do!
This can also act as a form of natural pest control as many helpful species of insect will drive away less helpful ones.
Be Smart When You Plant
Intensive planting is the hallmark of industrial agriculture and this is very destructive, when you start a regenerative garden that doesn’t mean that you can’t get multiple crops in your garden at home.
But it means learning about rotating crops and learning to plan plant growth so that it supports the next harvest or the harvest after that.
You can also use cover crops as a strategy to improve crop rotations as they provide ground cover for your main crops and starve weeds of the light that they need to thrive.
Some good choices for a cover crop would include clovers, ryegrass, winter peas, crown vetch, sudangrass and sorghum, and many, many more.
Learn To Cover Crops And Avoid Harmful Practices
You can also cover crops with plastic sheets and that may ensure that weeds are quickly killed off before they germinate.
You can plant natural insecticides to keep insects at bay too – such as lavender or marigolds.
We’ve got some great recipes for natural homemade insecticides if you feel a need to spray your plants too.
The fewer chemicals you use, the more cover crops planted, the easier it is for the soil to retain moisture and thrive naturally.
It’s also going to cost you a lot less money in the long run, chemicals are expensive and they need constant replenishment to be effective.
It’s much better to use regenerative practices to work in harmony with the land.
It’s not just a buzzword. Regenerative gardening works. It’s good for you, it’s good for the food that you grow and it’s good for the planet.
It means fewer carbon emissions, a healthy compost pile, beneficial insects galore, and much more. It puts the fun back into gardening and works well alongside the organic movement while ensuring that you leave your garden in a better condition than it ever was before!