9 Essential Practices for Organic and Sustainable Gardeners

Man working his compost bin with a pitch fork
  1. Work compost into soil to increase soil’s ability to retain water and nutrients. Compost also supports beneficial soil microbes that help spur healthy plant growth.
  2. Avoid planting large blocks of the same crop, which offers an easy target for pests.
  3. Protect soil from compaction with wide rows or raised planting beds. Permanent footpaths also prevent soil compaction.
  4. Inspect plants daily to catch pest and disease attacks before they become major problems.
  5. Research pest and disease problems to learn all control options.
  6. Choose synthetic chemicals for pest control only when all other methods fail. Select a target-specific chemical (which targets a specific insect) instead of a broad-spectrum one (which targets many different types of insects).
  7. Hang birdhouses and add a birdbath to attract insect-eating birds to your garden, but be ready to share some fruit with them, too. (Or, don’t do this one.)
  8. Let leafy crops, such as broccoli or greens, flower at the end of their season to provide nectar for beneficial insects.
  9. Mulch planting beds to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture.