Whatever you do, do not look up soil degradation statistics. Let’s not get into why rats are frolicking in the suburban wild of backyards and dumpsters, or why the city seems to be getting hotter and windier. These are big questions that require group efforts. What all of the above means is that being able to grow your own food and sustain a few local crops will become more and more important in years to come. The newest trend in gardens is to do away with grass and to do species counts of the flora and fauna.
Container gardens and other popular styles are very useful to fight food inflation and keep our impact on the environment low by cutting out transportation and fossil fuels. Fresh vegetables also taste better when they ripen on a vine, but ecological gardens can be any style if they focus on one key goal – increasing biodiversity. You can do it with a vegetable garden, flower bed, or natural garden. So how do we improve our counts? It can be achieved with a few key considerations below and using our collections to learn more!
If you have poor soil what you will find, even with grass, your vegetation will start to die off.
The Green Smoothie Garden edited by Tracy Russell
You can tell if your soil is terrible by what kind of weeds are growing as certain species will thrive in bad soil.
Planting Noah’s Garden by Sarah Stein
Traditional landscaping tends to destroy the suburban environment, it is okay to let plants grow a bit in select areas.
Circle Gardening by Kenneth E. Spaeth Jr.
Elements like sand or gravel and water movement will have an impact on your soil, which will vary by year. To achieve healthy soil, backfill with homogeneous soil. Healthier soil will attract more bugs and worms.
Think low cost and low impact.
Eco Yards: Simple Steps to Earth-Friendly Landscapes by Lauren Rama
An ecological garden requires less maintenance, is trying to co-create with nature and uses minimal electric machinery. Reducing other types of pollution that involve carbon and noise.
Understand that exotic annuals may seem delightful, but they do not necessarily help pollinators. An eco-garden will consider how plants and species interact with each other.
No Waste Kitchen by Katie Elzer-Peters
Consider composting, you can do so easily with a 5-gallon bucket and layering shredded paper after every use.
The Dirt Cheap Green Thumb by Rhonda Massingham Hart
You can successfully use a 2L pop bottle to achieve frost protection instead of spending on greenhouses.
The Green Witch’s Garden by Arin Murphy-Hiscock
Useful hacks for growing food from kitchen waste, and how joining a community supported agriculture subscriptions pays off as some will allow you to pay for food with labour, and guerilla gardening. You can literally just choose to plant a seed anywhere like the squirrels do!
The Fruitful City by Helena Moncrieff
This is a great book, and Toronto specific. Did you know there are heirloom trees all over the city that bear fruit? Some are fig trees! This is recommended reading for when you are out for a stroll so you can recognize what people have been doing for a century or longer.
Ecological Gardening by Marjorie Harri
This book points out that we should check for symbols that indicate that bulbs were not harvested in the wild. You can avoid this ecological faux pas by joining a seed exchange. Another earth-friendly tip is to look for green pest control ideas.
Natural gardens change over time with established species giving way to new species, growing and receding with the years. Consider companion plants that can help with pollination or pest issues.
Plantiful by Kristin Green
Maybe you have encountered plants known as volunteers, they are great because they will re-sow themselves. Milkweed and Hardy Begonias are examples of this.
So now that you have a few resources to know it doesn’t take much to make a difference, the challenge is this: go back to your species count, now add one. The rest about the soil and the wind might then need updating if we all do some small effort together. Keep checking in with the Toronto Public Library's Our Fragile Planet series for the most current discussions and reading lists.