A Beginner’s Guide to Cultivating a Self-Sustaining Garden

25 May

A self-sustaining garden is one that relies on organic methods to keep the soil fertile. It will provide your family with fresh fruits and vegetable throughout the growing season. These were the norm until hybrid plants, chemical pesticides, and synthetic fertilizers became the norm.


If you want to bring your soil to life, compost adds nutrients back to your land. Compost consists of your vegetable and fruit scraps, grass clippings, shredded leaves, coffee filters and more. Instead of tossing these items into the trash, you can reduce how much waste you make and help your soil.

All you need to do is add compost when you put in your plants each spring. You also can add compost to your beds during the fall.


Organic mulch choices naturally add nutrients to your soil. Organic mulch isn’t store-bought wood chips. Grass clippings, compost, straw and shredded leaves all can kill weeds while adding organic matter to your soil.

Cover Crops

Sustainability isn’t possible without the use of cover crops in the fall. Cover crops replenish your soil. Options include annual rye, alfalfa, and clovers. Plus, they keep weeds out of your beds and put nitrogen back into the ground.

Saving Seeds

Seed saving is a must for sustainability. You have to learn how to keep seeds for human consumption, as well as crops for fodder. Heirloom plants allow you to save the seeds of the plants that do the best each year. Saving seeds mean the plants you grow will be better suited and adapted to your climate and pests.

Picking the Right Plants

A self-sustaining garden not only sustains itself, but it also supports the family as well. What you choose to grow will depend on your family’s individual needs and climate.

Some plants to consider are:

  •    Carrots
  •    Onions
  •    Potatoes
  •    Cabbage
  •    Broccoli
  •    Cauliflower
  •    Greens, such as lettuce and spinach
  •    Peas
  •    Green Beans
  •    Herbs


You could also include the grains your family and livestock require. You might grow corn, oats, barley, wheat, or more.


The point of a sustainable garden is to enable it to sustain itself. Once you plant your fruits and vegetables, nature will do most of the work for you. All you have to do is perform some light maintenance and reap the benefits. For further advice on going green, you can go here for some more tips.

A sustainable gardener uses simple tools like shovel, a hand trowel, a hoe, hand rake, and a wheelbarrow. Large machines aren’t part of sustainability. Tillers are often frowned upon because they are thought to destroy the soil. Together, you and the earth work together to create a cycle that sustains the garden and your family.