Practice companion gardening

Companion planting helps to get the most out of your garden by planting different vegetables and plants together so that they can make the best use of available sun, nutrients and space. You can plant fast-growing plants in between slow-growing ones. Large, bushy plants like tomatoes can provide protection from the scorching sun for low-growing, shade-loving plants like lettuce and spinach. Marigolds make excellent companion plants as they repel pests, and encourage the growth of a wide range of plants. See Topic Companion Planting for more information in the Enviropaedia.

Plant a tree

Trees create shade, and provide us with fruit and fuel. They also absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and release oxygen, helping us to purify the air that we breathe. To make a difference, and to grow trees for future generations, plant a tree and look after it. Planting a tree is a lovely way to commemorate the life of a loved one, or to honour a friend on a birthday or another special event. Give trees as gifts to show how much you care, and teach other people how to plant and take care of them.

Use recycled pots

Before you rush out and purchase expensive pot plants, consider what materials you have available that could   be used instead. Plants and seedlings can be grown in  old yogurt or milk containers, with holes punched in the bottom. Old baths, sinks, barrels and buckets can make ideal worm farms or bird baths. Old car tyres also make excellent planting containers.

Grow sprouts

If you don’t have the space to create your own food garden, then start sprouting! There are a wide variety of beans and lentils that can be sprouted and turned into a delicious and nutritious addition to salads, stir fries, or even eaten as a hunger busting snack on their own. There are some very good readymade sprouting trays and bags available in garden centres and health shops, or you can simply make sprouts by putting your beans/ lentils in a glass, in a dark place, rinsing them with water twice a day, and waiting for them to grow shoots.

Create a balcony garden

If you live in a fat, and you don’t have a garden to grow plants and veggies in, then start a garden on your balcony, or on a sunny windowsill. By using pots, old car tires and window boxes you can grow useful plants, such as herbs, chillies, lettuce, wheat grass and rocket. You can produce your own food, and also create a lovely lush living space, full of colour!

Use old car tyres to build a terrace

Instead of using concrete blocks to shore up the terraces in a garden, collect old car tyres and embed them into the hillside to create a cheap and effective protection against soil erosion. Fill them with good soil and plant creeping herbs, New Zealand spinach, comfrey, bulbine and other veggies’.

Create recycled plant labels

Plastic cool drink bottles make good plant labels. Cut up the bottles with a sharp knife or scissors. Make a sharp point at one end so the label can stick in the ground. Then write on the plastic tab with permanent marker, and poke them into the ground next to the plant, to keep tabs on your new seedlings.

Become a beekeeper

Keeping bees in your garden or on your plot encourages biodiversity in your area, and keeps the local eco-system healthy. Provided your property is big enough to give them sufficient space, it is easier than you might think to become a beekeeper, and there are some excellent beekeeping courses available that will equip you with the know-how to start a productive hive. Pollinators affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, and increase the output of 87 percent of the leading food crops worldwide. So your little hive can make a big contribution to local biodiversity.

Get a worm farm

Worm farms are a fun and effective way of turning your kitchen waste into wonderfully rich compost. You can buy a readymade worm farm or build a simple one of your own. Red wriggler worms are the recommended type to use as they are able to eat up to half their body weight per day and will rapidly munch their way through most of your organic kitchen waste. Red wrigglers create two products for your garden. Vermicompost is a rich 100% organic compost filled with wonderful micro-nutrients. Worm tea is a fantastic liquid compost that can be used when watering or as a pest-repelling spray. See Topic on Worm Farming for more information in the Enviropaedia.

Cut down on your lawn area

Keeping a lawn lush and green requires lots of attention and even more water. To cut down on water use, consider reducing the size of your lawn area by using pebbles, stones or paving. You can also turn part of your lawn area into a productive veggie garden, from which to feed your family. Alternatively, use tougher, low water grass rather than the more common Kikuyu. For coastal areas investigate Buffalo lawn and for inland gardens, look at Kweek.