Ultimate Guide to Holistic Gardening

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holistic gardening
butterfly sitting on a flower

We have all heard about numerous gardening types, including organic gardening, hydroponic gardening, chemical-intensive gardening, but now there’s another new form of gardening on the rise: holistic gardening. 

So what makes holistic gardening different from the other traditional forms of gardening? Keep reading to find out.

What is Holistic Gardening?

If the term ‘garden’ invokes the image of manicured lawns, organized flower beds, or perfect rows of vegetables, you might initially find a holistically run garden haphazard. However, if you focus beneath the surface of the greenery present in any regular garden, you will learn that the natural garden-style helps create and encourage diversity, sustainability, and animal habitats.

Holistic gardens encompass the needs of plants and humans to ensure a sustainable environment and good health. Holistic gardeners believe that it is crucial to understand an all-inclusive picture of everything that describes and sustains life on this planet. 

Gardens are mini-ecosystems that interact with and are affected by the natural settings surrounding it. What people do in their backyard gardens can potentially leave a negative impact or provide sustainability to plants, soil, and living creatures.

Holistic Approach

Holistic gardening refers to adopting an all-encompassing approach. This shows that gardeners are willing to consider how their desire for home-grown vegetables and fruits or fresh flowers may impact the surrounding environment. Holistic gardeners believe that natural features of outdoor space are more appropriate for specific herbs, plants, or shrubs than others. 

Holistic gardening is more about working with what can provide more mutual benefit to gardeners and the environment than imposing personal will on green spaces. Several sustainable gardeners believe in natural spaces having their own energy and hence being more responsive to the influences and elements present around it. 

The role of a holistic gardener is more like that of a caretaker and invites them to look at their gardens through fresh perspectives. The holistic approach allows them to notice how the sunlight, the wind, and the flow of water can affect their gardens. 

Holistic gardeners observe how water sources feed their plants, how certain areas are more likely to receive wind and breezes, how pest-deterrent plants can be cultivated in ideal spots to spread the scent to the remaining garden area and if there is a need to create a hedge or shrub to protect plants and creatures from strong winds. 

These are just a few of the many questions gardeners ask themselves to follow a holistic approach. Taking adequate time to observe the various elements at play in a garden can equip people with the essential information required for a sustainable environment. 

Gardening Styles in Holistic Approach

Committed gardeners adopt several unique gardening styles for their green spaces. Thus, here is a brief overview of three popular sustainable forms of gardening, the elements of which will most likely be present in your garden: organic gardening, biodynamic gardening, and permaculture gardening.

Organic Gardening 

The organic gardening approach emphasizes managing gardens without the use of any pesticides, chemical products, and fertilizers. Numerous home gardeners opt for organic practices in some areas of their garden while avoiding the rest, depending on their energy and time committed to the garden. 

Organic gardeners realize that adding chemical elements to the garden can have systemic and potentially long-term effects on their surroundings and their surroundings. The choice to avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides in gardening practices limits the chemical contamination of the water supply and the garden soil. 

Biodynamic Gardening 

Biodynamic gardening was first introduced in 1924 by Rudolf Steiner, this gardening method respects and appreciate the innate energy present within a garden space and honored the interconnectedness of all elements. 

Biodynamic gardening involves activities like worm farming, composting, mulching, and manual weeding. Astronomical or Astrological influences are a significant aspect of this form of gardening. It mostly uses signs and phases of the moon to guide weeding, planting, and watering routines. 

Permaculture Gardening 

The primary focus of permaculture or polyculture gardening is to intentionally recreate natural ecosystems. It uses gardening practices to replenish the ecosystem rather than depleting resources. Founded by Bill Mollison in the 1970s, permaculture gardeners endeavor to manifest the ‘reduce, recycle, reuse’ mantra in their horticultural practices. 

Crop rotation and companion planting are permaculture trends that emerged in response to large-scale monoculture farms that reduce diversity through repetitive planting and deplete soil quality. Moreover, this gardening method aims to rehabilitate the land. 

Core Values of a Holistic Garden 

If you want to create a holistic garden, following the five core values of the holistic garden must nurture the essence and true meaning of a holistic garden. The five core values are:

Value #1: The first step is to start a holistic garden is to change the way you perceive the environment around you. The essence of holistic gardening lies in treating the land as a living entity that breathes, grows when nourished and also deteriorates if not correctly cared for.

Value #2: The second value is only to grow as much produce that is adequate to feed your family, and instead of hoarding the surplus, give it away to someone else and avoid waste.

Value #3: Do not use artificial or chemical products to enhance the soil quality instead of emphasizing composting as much as possible. The more compost you use, the better it is for the environment.  

Value #4: Another core value of holistic gardening is to grow special plants in some regions of the garden to attract and encourage predatory insects.

Value #5: One of the core holistic garden values focuses on the three R’s: recycle, reuse, and reduce. If something needs to be thrown away, it cannot be sustainable for the environment. Therefore, adopt recycling practices to ensure and support a safe ecosystem for all living organisms.

Growing Food in a Holistic Garden

One of the simplest and best ways to garden with health well-being in mind is to designate and transform an area in your green space or garden into a fruit, vegetable, and herb garden.

Depending on the allotted space, health-conscious people can grow vegetables like lettuce or tomatoes in pots or plant fruit trees accordingly to the available space. Vegetables and fruits not only offer optimal nutrition’s when eaten fresh but also provide an amazing taste that is otherwise difficult to attain in previously picked vegetation.

In holistic gardening, try planting vegetables and fruits that release vital elements into the soil to help enhance the overall soil quality and support plant growth. For example, peas and wattle are excellent vegetables to grow in a holistic garden as they release nitrogen into the soil, which helps in vegetation growth.

Additionally, before choosing which plants to grow in a holistic garden, gardeners must research to find the most suitable plants that support and encourage the ecosystem.

Vital Aspect of a Holistic Garden: Diversity and Variety

If you have ever had the chance to visit a thriving vegetable farm or have gone for a walk through the bushes, you might have observed a plethora of variety of plants and vegetables, covering you from underfoot to above your head. 

Home gardeners often fail to uphold the holistic gardens approach by concentrating heavily on just a few plants on limited heights. Generally, a backyard garden consists of a manicured lawn and perhaps a couple of shrubs or trees; diversifying and adding variety to a garden is the first step to improving and supporting sustainability. Hedges, native grasses, and shrubs build natural and visual interest at various heights and also provides shade. Moreover, it is an excellent means to improve water retention. 

holistic gardening
man plucking fruit from vines

If your green space is in a full sun-exposure area, it is ideal to consider hardy fruit trees, vegetables, and herb patches for the garden. In addition to this, always remember to mulch to prevent moisture evaporation from the soil. For example, vines of kiwi or passion fruit are a great way to not only cover a barren wall beautifully but also provides nourishment for you and the local birds along with creating shelter for ground critters such as lizards. 

The Role of Lawns and Water on Holistic Gardening 

The luscious green, weed-free lawn might be the most high-maintenance and environmentally impactful part of a garden, mainly if you use artificial pesticides or other products that contain chemicals to keep the lawn in exquisite condition.

Most of the naturally run gardens do not have a lawn; instead, cultivating space is amplified by transforming lawn areas into multi-level landscapes with shrubs, rockery, native grass, trees, and water features. 

A lawn is also one of the thirstier facets in a garden, even more so if it uses traditional or exotic grass instead of native alternatives that may initially cost more but require lower maintenance in the long run. A lawn’s excessive water need and reliance on artificial weed management practices mean either reducing its size or eliminating it to encourage greater sustainability and uphold the holistic values in the gardening space.  

If you prefer paving in the outdoor area or green over stones; consider getting a groundcover that can survive drier conditions instead of traditional grass that requires a lot 

of water to maintain its form.

Pest Control in Holistic Approach

Since pesticides equal to antibiotics for a garden by erratically killing anything they touch. Learning about how various breathing organisms live in a garden can allow you to better take care of life playing out in your garden. Thus, use biological pest control methods, this encompasses the active encouragement of particular animals into the green space to reduce and control the population of less-preferred insects and bugs. 

Growing herbs is another excellent way to control pests as they are a powerful pest deterrent. Therefore, plant necessary herb bushes throughout the green space or in high wind areas. Garlic, basil, rosemary, onions, and chives offer strong pest-fighting scents. Moreover, a spray of oil and chili or cayenne pepper can dissuade bugs from settling onto plant leaves. 

The permaculture method of companion planting can also aid in natural pest management. Thus, try planting marigolds (natural aphid repellents), basil, garlic among tomatoes or roses. The fragrance from the roses and marigolds and the scent of herbs will act as a bug repellent, preventing the need to spray. 

For instance, when the use of chemicals is unavoidable, consider going through the environmental impact percentage of the chosen pesticide. This will allow us to determine which chemical has a lower environmental impact.

The Role of Natural Habitats in Holistic Gardening

A garden is a potential habitat for countless living organisms, A few are welcome, and some are not. Building a holistic garden means accepting that several creatures, big or small, will use your garden to seek food and shelter.

Green space can better support habitats for a myriad of creatures if you plan your garden horizontally and vertically. Trees, shrubs, groundcover, and rockeries provide abundant shelter and nourishment to several kinds of living organisms such as birds, worms, lizards, frogs, butterflies, etc.

Encouraging habitats for benign bug-eating creatures can also aid in natural pest control. Another excellent example of why habitation of creatures should be encouraged in green spaces is of butterflies.

Butterflies and bees are vital for pollination and diversity. Therefore, if you are growing fruit trees that need pollinating, having butterflies and bees around can significantly help.  

weed control in holistic gardening
person sowing seeds

Weed Control in Holistic Gardening 

The law of the jungle applies to any green space, let it be a home garden or a huge farm: the best-adapted and strongest plants will grow profusely, while the plants that are unsuitable to the soil or surrounding environment will struggle to survive.  

It is essential to understand that empty green spaces quickly fill themselves up by growing weeds. So if there is no groundcover or plants to replace the space that is occupied by weeds, there is no point in removing them in the first place as they’re bound to grow back.

Therefore, always, first plan what you will be growing in that area and then move towards removing the weeds. The best and most sustainable way to remove weeds is to pull them out entirely from the roots. This process is more labor-intensive than spraying, but it has no long-term or major impact on the soil, other plants, and the water system.

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Parting Note

The journey to building your holistic garden will evolve naturally over time. Therefore, start by taking small steps and incremental changes that are more affordable and manageable than going all out. We hope this article helps to clear up and shed light on various aspects of holistic gardening.