Image Credit: Kyle Ellefson
From Albania to Zambia, people across the globe love gardening. For some, it is a way to wind down and to enjoy some spare time, while for others, it is the difference between having food on the table and going hungry. Gardening is even popular within teeming cities like Nairobi, where residents have come up with novel solutions to squeeze gardens in to the most unlikely urban locations.
The concept of eco gardening is one that is rapidly gaining traction across the globe as a means of both indulging our fondness for gardening and protecting our dwindling natural resources. It is becoming increasingly popular across Africa, and a recent initiative by a girls’ school in Tanzania attracted plenty of media coverage. Let’s find out what is involved.
Key to the ethos of any eco project is the need to avoid throwing anything away, so the first thing on your list should be to create a compost area. Here, you can put all your vegetable waste, peelings and just about anything else, and over 6-9 months it will produce wonderful natural compost to nourish whatever you are growing. If you have grass lawns, choose a mower with grass collecting and compacting capability, as those cuttings are perfect for composting, too.
Reuse and Recycle
Of course, you can’t compost everything. But even plastic containers can be put to good use instead of being sent to landfill. For example, plastic bottles make excellent seedling protectors if you just cut off the base and place them over your seedlings, or you could even make your own watering can from them by creating a few holes - sure, it’s not absolutely necessary, but it is a great way to get the kids involved!
Everyone knows what a precious resource water is, and nowhere more so than in East Africa. Every drop that falls from the skies needs to be preserved and conserved, so water butts are an absolute must for any eco-garden.
Mention wildlife and you might envisage something with an angry roar and a penchant for small children lurking in the back garden, but all creatures great and small have their role to play, and in a garden it is the very smallest that you need to encourage. While aphids and blackflies can damage your lovingly grown plants, other tiny creatures such as lacewings and ladybirds that will help clear them for you. Encourage these beneficial bugs with some bright and cheerful sunflowers and marigolds.
Help the world fight back
A garden provides everything from a sanctuary of calm in a busy world to life-giving food and nourishment. And created with sound ecological principles in mind, it can also be of broader benefit to the world around us, making it a better place for future generations.