What is regenerative gardening? How is it different from sustainable and organic gardening? Essentially, we use the term regenerative for gardening practices that improve our soil and other growing conditions.
There are standard regenerative practices like using no-dig, compost, mulch, crop rotations and growing cover crops to improve biodiversity, nutrient availability, organic matter, soil carbon, and other indicators of our growing conditions. But using these practices isn’t the best way to get more support with growing food.
Low levels of organic matter, nutrient deficiencies, rainwater running off rather than infiltrating our soil, crops relentlessly hammered by insects, and unpollinated flowers, all tell us that our growing conditions are not 100%. We can focus on improving each of these, but this doesn’t make much sense because they are the symptoms rather than the cause of poor growing conditions.
Focusing on the ecological systems that naturally remedy these issues makes far more sense. Organic matter, nutrient availability, absorbent soil, pest control, and pollination are the products and services of functioning ecosystems.
Regenerating the Ecosystems in our Gardens is Eco-logical
Many gardeners and farmers around the world, who have already switched their focus in this way, now benefit from the free services their ecosystems provide. They get better harvests and produce more nutritious food at lower costs – less reliant on pest controls, fertilisers, compost, and other external inputs. They make the practical act of growing food a solution rather than a cause of climate change and have the joy of bringing Nature back into their gardens and farms!
Ecosystems are complex but repairing them isn’t complicated, because what we do is inherently eco-logical! That’s why, at Learning from Nature, we support gardeners to regenerate these highly evolved, locally adapted ecosystems with our Eco-logical Gardening Handbook and other resources.
By way of example, by maximising plant growth for us to eat, we’ve overlooked giving our soil organisms the resources they need to manage the ecosystems in our soil. Consequently, they haven’t been able to maintain the soil infrastructure and recycle nutrients for plants to reuse – tasks for which they’ve had billions of years of on-the-job training!
By designing our veggie beds and the other areas we use to grow food to improve the food supply, our plants get silver service catering directly from our soil ecosystem rather than via the intermittent and inadequate inputs we supply!
Using this Eco-logical Approach to Regenerative Gardening
Regenerating the ecosystems underpinning our food production using place-based solutions we combine our ingenuity with billions of years of research and development, carried out in every climate and soil type on the planet, including our own! We gain the skills to build our capacity to trial techniques, learn and share our experiences, and respond constructively to emerging issues and threats.
We create resilient production systems and improve the economics of growing food for home consumption by reducing our dependence on external inputs and global supply chains. We make the practical act of growing food a solution rather than a cause of climate change and have the joy of bringing Nature back into our gardens!
To repair the ecological functions holding you back, apply the ecological principles to develop ‘place-based solutions’ that work well for your growing conditions and the food you grow. For example, instead of relying on standard regenerative practices, like growing cover crops, use other techniques more suitable for your climate and production systems, like living mulch, green manure, intercropping, pasture cropping, and alley cropping.
See how we use these ecological principles to regenerate our farm and home garden here
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Or get everything you need to know with our Eco-logical Gardening Handbook.