Home “Eco”nomics – Vegetable Gardens

Home “Eco”nomics – Vegetable Gardens

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From the Victory Gardens of World War II to the back-to-the-land-movement of the ‘60s to the current day, a house vegetable backyard has symbolized healthful and sustainable residing. Gardening is good train proven to be correlated to long life. Home-grown produce is usually more energizing and extra flavorful than what’s out there on the retailer. And rising greens at dwelling may be cheaper and extra environmentally pleasant than shopping for them. Home gardeners may assist preserve the genetic diversity of our meals crops.

Despite these potential advantages of vegetable gardening, in the event you aren’t cautious, you possibly can find yourself utilizing numerous water and dumping numerous chemical substances to develop costly greens. In that case, you is perhaps higher off leaving the rising to the farmers.


Commercial agriculture is the most important use of floor and floor water within the United States. It accounts for roughly 80% of the nation’s water consumption total, and greater than 90% in lots of western states. But the picture of a home-owner standing outdoors within the late afternoon, aiming a hose on the vegetable backyard is a clue to how wasteful homegrown greens may be.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 30% to 60% of total household water is used outdoors. Our lawns and gardens absorb treasured freshwater.

A backyard hose can emit as much as 24 gallons of water per minute, delivering water far more shortly than the soil can take up. As a lot as 50% of water distributed by sprinklers is wasted attributable to wind, evaporation, and runoff attributable to inefficient watering. A poorly maintained computerized irrigation system can waste as much as 25,000 gallons of water yearly.

Tip: Limit your watering to drip irrigation of your backyard; don’t activate the sprinkler and stroll away.


Farmers have an financial incentive to not waste fertilizer. But the runoff from farms continues to be so excessive in nitrates that close by nicely water is usually unsafe to drink. Home gardeners are equally prone to the “extra is extra” mentality and are even much less more likely to fastidiously measure fertilizer purposes.

Not solely does overfertilization hurt backyard vegetation, the vitamins from business fertilizers are shortly leached from backyard soil. Once fertilizer leaves your vegetable backyard beds, it has the identical environmental impacts as farm fertilizers — particularly, contaminating water, feeding algal blooms, and even contributing to local weather change.

Tip: Limit use of fertilizer, pesticides, and even natural soil augmentation to cut back run-off of these supplies into close by groundwater.


Pesticide use is a big problem with a number of dangerous impacts. Each yr, agriculture within the U.S. makes use of about 900 million pounds of 17,000 pesticide products.

By distinction, the 59 million kilos of pesticide utilized in dwelling gardens appear inconsequential. But on a per-acre foundation, dwelling gardeners use extra pesticides than farmers do — by some estimates as much as 10 times more. This overuse can result in pesticides escaping the backyard into the setting. This pesticide drift endangers native ecosystems and human well being.

Home gardeners are likely to underestimate the toxicity of the merchandise they use. They don’t at all times comply with security protocols, which creates health risks from publicity throughout software, and unsafe storage creates a danger of poisoning, particularly for pets and children.

Tip: Consider safer forms of pest control, akin to companion planting and floating row covers.

Green Vegetable Gardening

All of this doesn’t imply that the produce out of your backyard can’t be greener than what you purchase on the retailer — it simply isn’t mechanically so. Home gardeners may be water-wise. They have the luxurious of choosing crops and varieties which are drought tolerant or have water wants that match their native local weather. They may use gardening strategies like self-watering and drip irrigation that aren’t at all times a viable selection for business operations. WaterSense labeled sprinklers and irrigation methods can save practically 7,600 gallons of water a yr.

Organic doesn’t essentially imply unhazardous, however natural rising strategies are typically extra sustainable. Organic fertilizers usually enhance soil tilth along with diet, and since they’re absorbed slowly, have to be utilized much less steadily. Nitrogen-fixing cowl crops and compost mulch (and even peecycling) can cut back or get rid of the necessity for any business fertilizers. Avoiding artificial pesticides in favor of natural pest control strategies and homemade pest repellents will maintain your backyard safer, too.

Even Greener

Thinking about your vegetable backyard’s use of and results on water and soil is a superb begin. To make your backyard even greener, study to compost. Make certain the seeds you purchase are natural, or save and trade your seeds. Learn about companion planting and different practices that attract pollinators like bees. Grow additional to donate to meals banks. Homegrown veggies should not at all times the greenest selection, however with slightly effort, they are often.

Originally revealed on August 11, 2020, this text was up to date in July 2023.