Monoculture to Horticulture
Converting Your Lawn to a Veganic Garden
If you’re looking for ways to deal with the recent economic downturn and the ongoing environmental crisis, proactive solutions can be forged in your back yard.
In every lawn, there is a potential for a garden. We can start to cultivate edible landscapes where monoculture lawns now dominate, minimizing our food bills and food miles and giving us the option to reclaim vital knowledge and autonomy.
Gardens can even share our vegetarian lifestyle. Doing veganic gardening, animal products and chemicals are eschewed, and the soil is nourished with vegetation.
DECONSTRUCTING A LAWN
Begin by choosing an area that receives plenty of sunlight, preferably with southern exposure.
Edible gardens needn’t be hidden away in back yards: antioxidant-rich herbs, greens, and edible flowers like pansies and chamomile can be elegantly incorporated in front-yard landscaping.
Begin small and expand your garden each year as you gain more experience. There is more than one way to deconstruct your lawn.
The soil can be removed entirely with a spade (it can be composted and added back later), and organic materials are added to help replace the lost topsoil. Initially, labor-intensive, a full garden can be planted in the first season.
The patient approach involves no-dig techniques, where organic matter is built up on top of the lawn without damaging the underlying soil structure.
A thick layer of nutrient-rich material like hay can be placed directly on the lawn, where it suppresses the weed growth and slowly decomposes.
With sheet mulching or lasagna gardening, several layers of biodegradable materials are used, such as compost and cardboard, topped with leaves, hay, twigs, and grass.
More resilient plants like potatoes and broad beans, or transplants like tomatoes, leeks, and also cucumbers do well in the first year, followed by a more diverse range in future years once the organic matter has decomposed.
These techniques are low maintenance and easy to do without special tools.
A TRUE VEGETABLE GARDEN
Just as humans can thrive on a plant-based diet, our gardens can thrive on plant-based amendments.
Veganic agriculture is a philosophy of growing food that uses plant-based techniques, in contrast with conventional agriculture, which uses chemical fertilizers and pesticides, or organic agriculture, which often uses animal inputs of manure, blood meal, and bone meal.
Veganic agriculture is compatible with other growing systems, including no-till, permaculture, bio-intensive, square-foot gardening, container gardening, and forest gardening.
BUILDING FERTILITY LOCALLY
Millions of organisms from thousands of different species flourish in a microscopic universe in each spoonful of healthy soil. When we nourish them with decomposing
Plant matter, the microorganisms, and earthworms readily feast on the vegetation, breaking it down into a form accessible to growing plants.
With veganic gardening, as much fertility as possible is maintained by feeding the soil with plant matter available on our own land and in our own community.
Materials commonly viewed as household garbage or yard waste can be revalued as essential elements in a growing cycle.
Composting is the most simple and accessible way to maintain fertility at the local level, creating rich organic matter that is excellent for starting seedlings, boosting transplants, and feeding the microorganisms in the soil.
Starting a home compost or joining a community com-post provides a free and steady supply of nourishment for your garden using waste materials like food scraps, leaves, and twigs.
For gardeners and non-gardeners alike, composting is also an important environmental initiative, as it diverts organic matter from landfill sites where it would otherwise contaminate groundwater and produce substantial greenhouse gases.
Mulching is another easy way to enhance fertility with local materials. Mulches slowly feed the microorganisms while protecting the soil from wind and erosion, improving water retention, and inhibiting competing for plant species’ growth.
This adds up to less watering, less weeding, and long-term soil health. Typical mulches include leaf mold, hay, cardboard, straw, non-glossy newspaper, comfrey leaves, grass clippings, chipped branch wood, and living mulch.
Many plants’ leaves and stems can serve as mulch if they have not gone to seed, such as corn husks and carrot tops.
Depending on your neighbor-hood and bioregion, other materials like seaweed, corn cobs, spent hops, and pecan shells may be available.
Green manures are plants you can grow on your own land specifically to enhance fertility. Legumes are often chosen to add nitrogen to a garden by capturing the nitrogen available in the air.
The plants are cut down before going to seed and incorporated wills the soil. They can also serve as cover crops to protect the soil from wind and erosion when the ground would otherwise be bare and help prevent the leaching of nutrients.
GROWING FOR BIODIVERSITY
Having a diversity of animal species and microorganisms in our gardens is essential for pollination and organic growing fertility.
The vast majority of animal species have a beneficial or neutral influence on our gardens, even if a small portion of our harvest will be snacked upon by particular creatures.
When pesticides are used, these chemicals are destructive to the local web of life, killing pollinators and beneficial microorganisms, affecting larger animals’ health, and poisoning waterways.
We can encourage an environmental balance through more extraordinary biodiversity by planting flowers, adding birdhouses, or converting a kiddie pool into a pond rather than targeting specific species.
This helps sustain wildlife and lessens the chance that a single species will overpopulate the garden. When you first begin to garden, it would be a good idea to consult with local gardeners about which plants go well in your bioregion.
Initially, you may have more success with easy-to-grow plants like radishes, lettuce, beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers, expanding to a wider variety of species in future years. The root systems
Of plants vary between species. Some have roots that spread widely and improve soil structure, while others have roots that grow deep and draw nutrients to the surface.
Consider growing plants from several families in the same bed and ensure that crops are grown in another spot of the garden each year- this varies the fertility demands on the soil and deters diseases and competing insects from becoming established.
RECLAIMING THE LAND
Even those of us who are landless can still become vegan gardeners. Between community gardens, container gardening, rooftop and balcony gardens, urban fruit gleaning, indoor sprout farms, and cultivating your neighbor’s garden, there are plenty of opportunities to become active horticulturalists and harvesters.
Growing organically in our neighborhoods is an excellent initiative for creating an ethical food supply: local, organic, and animal-friendly.
Returning our stagnant lawns to a state of edible biodiversity can contribute to our physical, financial, and emotional well-being while also helping us reduce our ecological footprint.