10 Permaculture Gardening Ways To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
If you want to offset your carbon footprint you have to give no-dig gardening a try! It is our favorite gardening method by far!
Not digging and turning your soil prevents the oxidation of organic matter and the release of stored carbon in the soil. It also helps to increase organic matter i.e. carbon in the soil. In turn, microorganisms increase and they do all the work for you! The soil is more fertile and loose in the long run.
Read more about no-till gardening here.
Organic matter that ends up in landfills creates methane which is a very potent climate gas. By composting your kitchen and garden wastes you reduce the production of methane and you create your own invaluable fertilizer.
Applying compost to your garden beds increases the carbon content of your soil i.e. you are sequestering carbon.
Learn more about composting basics here!
Mulching And Cover Crops
One of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint with gardening is to use mulch and cover crops. A permanent groundcover leads to healthier soil with a higher organic matter content and increased microbial activity. This not only increases the fertility of your soil but also sequesters carbon.
Soils protected by plant material be it alive or dead (mulch) has higher microbial activity, higher water infiltration, and water holding capacity. Nutrients are less prone to be washed away and there is less need for watering.
Polycultures and Diversity
This is basically the opposite of conventional monocultures. In a monoculture the plants need all the same nutrients at the same time, the roots are all at the same depth and they release the identical root exudates trying to attract the microbes they need for their nutrient supply. This leads to imbalance and decreases plant health leading to more pest problems.
In a diverse polyculture, the plants support each other, they need different nutrients and they are more resilient. Polycultures increase soil health and produce healthier, more nutritious food.
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Perennial vegetables like asparagus or artichokes are not only less labor-intensive but they also keep living roots in the soil permanently. Living roots excrete sugars (i.e. carbon and food for microbes) also called exudates that support and attract the right soil microbes that are most beneficial for the plants. These microbes in return feed the plants with their...poop.
Biochar is a form of charcoal and it is a stable form of carbon. It has a huge surface area and it can hold on to nutrients and microorganisms. Biochar has numerous benefits for the climate and your garden. You can either buy it or make your own. Incorporated into your soil it gives soil microbes a cozy home and it can hold onto nutrients and prevent their loss to the atmosphere (N) or groundwater.
Trees can help to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere. A single tree can capture close to 22 kg of CO2 per year! If you plant fruit or nut trees you have the added benefit of food! If you have no space to plant trees in your garden you can support a tree-planting charity!
A food forest mimics a natural forest and helps to bind CO2 while producing food! A food forest is based on layers .i.e. canopy, understory, shrub, herb, groundcover, root and vine layers. This gives you lots of options for different fruit and nut trees, fruit bushes, herbs and tubers to grow even if it is only in a small area.
A food forest builds biomass above and below the ground, increases biodiversity and helps to establish a functioning ecosystem in your garden.
Fruit Tree Guilds
A fruit tree guild is a combination of a fruit tree with other plants like berries, perennials, bulbs, and herbs that support each other and produce food at the same time. They can be part of a food forest but they can also stand on their own.
Fruit tree guilds support wildlife, sequester carbon and produce food. Another win-win!
Learn more about carbon sequestration here!
One of the many effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint in your garden is by building hugelkultur beds. These raised beds are built with wood in the center. They sequester carbon long term and can produce an abundance of food without the need for irrigation.
Learn more about hugelkultur here.
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