While sustainability is an ever-increasing concern for many Australians, it’s not something you may have thought about with respect to your garden. From choosing your plants with purpose to harvesting seeds and composting advice, landscape gardener and star of Selling Houses Australia, Charlie Albone is back this month with his top seven tips for creating a more sustainable garden.
Plant with a purpose
“Choosing the right plant for the right spot as per water, soil and sun requirements is key to the success of a planting scheme. Spend time researching what plants are best suited to your garden’s unique environment – the more appropriate the plants, the less intervention and resources they will require to succeed,” says Charlie who likes choosing plants with added benefits too – think produce or cut flowers. “Plants like these will ensure your garden naturally works harder for you,” says Charlie.
Think long term about root growth when potting a plant
“What you see above the ground is only half the picture. Tease out congested root growth before planting so new roots find it easy to penetrate the soil and spread far. I always soak the root ball in a seaweed tonic to remove any dry spots and to supercharge new root growth,” says Charlie.
Know what seeds can and can’t be saved – and harvest those that can for another day
“Collecting seeds from your plants is a great way to ensure they live on. It allows you to reproduce the exact plant again and again. It’s also a lovely way to share plants with your neighbours and friends,” says Charlie.
Variety counts! A sustainable garden is one rich in biodiversity.
“Try to create a natural environment for your plants. Start with canopy plants, then move down to understory and ground covers. An example of this in the veggie patch would be tomatoes as a canopy plant, salad leaves in the sheltered understory and finally, trailing herbs such as thyme forming a ground cover,” says Charlie.
Not all composts are made equal
“Compost is one of the best things you can do for your soil as it boosts nutrient and water holding capacity as well as biodiversity in the soil. It’s easy to create your own and you can use almost all your food and garden waste. Just steer clear of meat and bread as they can attract vermin. For best results, dig compost through the bed before planting or apply as a mulch in established beds,” says Charlie.
Revive struggling plants by learning how to identify an issue and nip it in the bud
“You would be surprised how resilient plants can be in returning from the brink. In the same way as Nespresso’s Reviving Origins program is working with Zimbabwean and Colombian coffee farmers to help revive their precious farmland through collaboration with the community,” who recommends turning to your local gardening community when faced with an issue in your garden. “Most of the time someone else has dealt with the same problem before and can offer advice on how to overcome it,” says Charlie.
Get children involved
“Whether it’s newfound knowledge or a batch of fresh strawberries, the very best way to make your garden more sustainable is by inspiring others,” says Charlie who loves getting children used to getting their hands dirty in the garden. “Once they first experience the miracle of sowing a seed, watching it germinate and blossoming into a beautiful plant, they will be on their way to becoming lifelong sustainable gardeners.”
Charlie’s tips were inspired by the launch of Nespresso’s Reviving Origins program – an initiative restoring coffee farming communities in regions that have been devastated by conflicts, economic hardships or environmental disasters. Nespresso’s two new single-origin coffees, Tamuka mu Zimbabwe and Esperanza de Colombia, are both from regions where coffee was on the brink of disappearing altogether.