ThisEarth Day is the perfect time to make a difference in your community. How about starting a small garden in your neighbourhood? Get those green fingers going without having to empty your bank account.
Why a community garden?
A community garden is a common space where the people living in the area collectively grow vegetables, fruit or flowers and share responsibility for its maintenance. Community gardens come with benefits such as bringing people together and providing a healthy food source for communities where food is not easy to come by. There are also some environmental benefits, such as encouraging the growth of plants that attract pollinators, creating a friendly environment for bees, butterflies, birds and other pollinators.Plants are also known to cause an area to have cooler temperatures compared to places that are paved. With a community garden, you could harvest so much that it would not only be enough to be shared among community members, but also the less fortunate outside of the area.
Choose low-maintenance plants
Regularly tending a garden is not always possible, so it’s best to choose plants that don’t require you to be constantly checking on them. Low-maintenance plants adapt more easily to the climate and planting conditions. They have a longer life span, which means you’ll save money. Some low-maintenance vegetables and herbs to consider are:
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Winter squash
- Herbs: thyme, chives and origanum
If you’re also looking to make your community aesthetically pleasing – with minimal labour! – consider water-wise plants.
Avoid harmful pesticides
Creating your own natural pesticides will definitely save you a buck and also make your gardening experience easier. Try some of these solutions:
- Salt water. Add some salt to water and stir until it dissolves. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray your plants.
- Garlic-and-onion water. Add a medium onion and clove of garlic, both roughly chopped, to water and allow to sit. Add cayenne pepper and a drop of liquid soap and spray plants.
- Eucalyptus oil. The smell of eucalyptus repels insects. Simply spray some of the oil on your plants regularly.
Make your own compost
Compost acts as a conditioner for your soil. This means that adds moisture to your soil and infuses it with nutrients, which your plants feed from. A good compost is composed of a balance of carbon-based and nitrogen-based material. Some of the compost materials you can use come from everyday items. Consider some of these items to get your compost going:
- Nitrogen-based: tea leaves, lawn and garden weeds, fruit and vegetable scraps, flowers and cuttings, and many more
- Carbon-based: cardboard, leaves, newspaper, straw or hay, and many more
- Neutral: crushed eggshells
It is important to note that these materials work together and not independently. They also need to be used in moderation, so watch a video or two on how to use them before getting started.
Building a garden for your community may not be possible, but you can still make your contribution to the wellness of planet Earth by making greener choices. Changing the world happens one small step at a time. Consider integrating this lifestyle choice into your daily living:
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Before recycling, always choose to reduce the amount of packaging you take home. Decline unnecessary packaging.
- Water conservation. Practise using water wisely in your home – for example, have rules for when to flush the toilet, reuse bath and sink water, and water your garden in the morning and evenings.
- Planting trees. Be part of a community that's combating global warming through tree planting and creating homes for indigenous animal life.
- Shopping wisely. Always ask for the eco-friendly option.
Days like Earth Day were created to raise awareness about the environmental issues that impact us all as the human race. You don’t need much to make a positive difference on Earth – so what are you waiting for? Go green!