Naturally I consulted Mr. Google and found this site,
which flips turns Fran’s notion upside down, viewing organic gardening
as a type of sustainable gardening, along
with permaculture and others. On this site, sustainability is:
"Growing food you want to eat and flowers and trees that you like
so you are motivated to continue growing. Growing
economically, making it worth your while. Taking care of environmental
issues, so that the ground will continue to support growing." Again
the gardener is important in this definition, which must have been
taken from or written by the same person who wrote the exact same
definition on Food for Everyone.
But notice their link to "What is Organic Sustainable Gardening,"
conflating the two terms? No wonder people are confused. But I love
that they include another reason it’s important to please human beings – so they’ll continue growing. Yeah, and keep acquiring more plants, all of them cleaning the air, filtering the water, and so on.
Moving on, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden defines "sustainable techniques" by linking to "how to
design a dazzling garden that conserves natural resources, eschews toxic chemicals, and
encourages a diversity of plant and animal life." Good one.
Now I’m a huge fan of garden writer Ann Lovejoy, who has
many books to her credit and a column called "Sustainable Gardening" in
the Kitsap Sun. The closest thing to a definition I found was this column,
in which she says "Each season more clients ask for sustainable
gardens. They crave
gardens that are beautiful, peaceful retreats yet don’t need constant
care" and she refers to "sustainable landscapes and gardens that sit
lightly on the earth,
needing little intervention and recycling as many resources as
possible." She recommends using "native plants and their relatives and
allies from similar climate zones around the world. Such plants often
proved to be naturally adapted to the conditions common to the maritime
Northwest, which made them easy to please." So we’re starting to see a
consistent pattern here, and it’s a good one.
The County of San Mateo, CA
website tells us that sustainable gardening "includes" organic
gardening, native plants, double digging, vermicomposting, backyard
composting, mulch, drip irrigation, and IPM. Well, you won’t catch any
gardener I know, sustainable or otherwise, double-digging. And aren’t
organic and IPM almost mutually exclusive? Seems they threw everything
but the proverbial kitchen sink into the concept.
But probably the closest thing to an official definition is to be found with the folks at the Sustainable Sites Initiative,
the people formulating landscape practices for LEED certification.
Here we see an even larger scope that includes hydrology, soils,
vegetation, materials and – NOTE! – human well-being. Honing in on the
plants, it lists these "examples of sustainable vegetation practices":
Protect and conserve existing vegetation. Incorporate
healthy native or non-invasive vegetation currently existing on the
site into the site design. Encourage a tight disturbance zone to limit
construction damage to vegetation.
Eliminate the use of invasive plants. An invasive species is
defined as “an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to
cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”
Specify plants from local growers to reduce energy use and
other negative environmental impacts of shipping and ensure that plants
are adapted to local environmental conditions.
Minimize the amount of time that plants are stored on-site before planting.
If plants or on-site transplants must be stored on-site, store them in
ways that prevent stress and disease post-planting. Provide adequate
water, heal-in root balls and apply nutrients, if needed.
Well, as I said at the beginning of my talk the other day on Sustainable Gardening, there IS no agreed-upon definition, but here’s my own and I welcome your comments. And I wonder if my sustainable garden blogging counterpart in England wants to weigh in on this issue.
Photos from my presentation about Sustainable Gardening, first an
example of gardening in the bad old days and then gardening today.