`Sustainable gardening' includes many eco-friendly practices

``Sustainable” is one of gardening’s trendiest buzzwords

``Sustainable” is one of gardening’s trendiest buzzwords, yet it carries a range of definitions. Just what does it mean in practical terms, and how important is it to the average gardener?

Very important, according to a recent plant trends study by horticulturalists with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS). It found strong interest in native plants, ``re-wilding’’ gardens, growing edibles, and going easy on wildlife, among other concerns.

Sustainable isn’t necessarily the same as organic, noted Erica Chernoh, an Oregon State University Extension horticulturist.

```Organic’ has become legally recognized,’’ Chernoh said. ``Sustainability is more of an open book, combining ecological, sociological and economic factors.”

Ross Penhallegon, a horticulturist emeritus with Oregon State University Extension, said sustainability requires that we all ``look at our garden and ask what we can do to reduce carbon imprint, reduce irrigation and use less products.”

Some simple sustainable gardening goals, he noted in a fact sheet, include:

— Starting compost piles rather than throwing away yard debris. ``Composting keeps all the nutrients stored in yard debris in your garden on site and feeds the soil,” he said. ``It also saves you money since buying compost isn’t necessary.”

— Shifting from standard sprinklers to drip irrigation or soaker hoses. ``You can reduce your water use by up to 80 percent,” Penhallegon said. ``Also, consider using drought-resistant plants to save water.”

— Lessening pesticide use by planting large seedlings that withstand pests and diseases better than small ones.

— Fighting bugs with Integrated Pest Management, which uses the least toxic methods, minimizing risks to humans, animals, pollinators and other beneficial insects. ``If you must use a pesticide, use a low-toxicity one,” Penhallegon said.

Gardeners operate on a smaller scale than farmers but still can have major impacts, Chernoh said.

``They can do that by not over-fertilizing, by eliminating any spraying that isn’t necessary,’’ she said. ``Their size may be unlike farmers’, but their goals are the same.”

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Online:

For more about sustainable gardening, see this fact sheet from Colorado State University: https://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/sustainable-landscaping-7-243/

You can contact Dean Fosdick at deanfosdick@netscape.net