6 Best Practices to Start Regenerative Gardening (What To Know)

lettuce seedling

You have a backyard garden where you grow an array of fruits, vegetables and herbs. And, you already feel that you are doing your part in protecting the environment. But, if you are using conventional gardening practices, then you may be doing more harm to the planet.

So, how do you ensure your gardening approach is not harming the planet? Well, you should consider regenerative gardening. But what exactly is regenerative gardening?

As its name suggests, regenerative gardening is a gardening practice that focuses on nurturing and restoring soil fertility, without synthetic fertilizers or chemicals.

And by improving soil health, you will enjoy a higher productivity in your garden while playing a key role in fighting climate change and its adverse effects. In this post, we will walk you through 6 best practices and ways to start regenerative gardening. 

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Adopt No-Till Gardening


If you’re like most gardeners, there’s a high chance you usually till your garden at least once a year, to dig up weeds and break up the soil. But, tilling can cause soil degradation in various ways.

First, whenever you till your land, you will damage the soil structure, leaving it exposed to water and wind erosion. Second, the beneficial microbes in the soil will be exposed to direct heat from the sun, resulting in significant reduction in their populations. This will again lead to poor soil health.

Also, whenever you till your garden, you will release the carbon stored in the soil into the atmosphere. Again, you will not only be weakening your soil but you will also be contributing to environmental degradation.

We should also point out that tilling will reduce the soil’s ability to retain moisture. Consequently, you will be forced to water your garden more frequently, which goes against water conservation.

Instead, you should adopt a no-till gardening approach. With this practice, you simply need to create some holes in the soil where you will plant the seeds or seedlings instead of disturbing the entire garden. And by doing so, your garden’s soil structure will remain intact.

Nourish the Soil with Compost


As we pointed out earlier, regenerative gardening is all about nourishing and replenishing the soil. And, what better way to do it than to spread compost? Compost adds natural organic matter, beneficial microbes and nutrients into the soil, thus improving its health, quality and structure.

And, you don’t need to buy compost. You can easily make yours at home using your kitchen waste and yard debris. To do so, you simply need to dig a hole or trench in your garden, where you will be burying your kitchen waste and yard debris. With time, this waste will eventually decompose and turn into a nutrient-rich soil additive.

However, if there isn’t sufficient waste in your home to make compost, then you can simply buy from local gardening stores. Compost goes for around $20 to $30 per cubic yard. The price can be higher or lower depending on your location.

Ideally, you should add compost to your garden at least twice every year. The best time should be during spring or fall. You can add a little two weeks before planting and then continue adding more as your plants grow.  Aim to add at least an inch of to the top soil in your garden.

Diversify Plants in your Garden

wooden planter box raised garden bed

Planting the same types of crops in your garden year in year out will drain nutrients from the soil. Also, it will allow weeds, pests and diseases to thrive, necessitating the use of farm chemicals, which are harmful to the environment.

Instead, you should adopt crop rotation. Crop rotation entails growing different types in your garden. With this practice, you will avoid stripping the soil of its nutrients and limit pest infestations, meaning you don’t have to rely in chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

There are several ways to go about crop rotation. For instance, you can grow crops that add nitrogen into the soil like legumes in one season and then grow nitrogen-intensive crops during the next season. Also, you can alternate plants depending on the type of insects they attract.   

The best way is to split your garden into smaller sections. You will then be planting a particular crop family in each section while rotating the order every year.

With this practice, you will be putting lesser pressure on the soil. Also, in the unfortunate situation a particular crop is hit by a pest or disease infestation, you will still harvest the others.

Grow Cover Crops


Leaving your soil exposed after the growing season can kill off microorganisms, degrade the top soil, dry it out, and introduce weeds. And, this is where cover crops come in.

Cover crops are plants that are primarily grown to improve soil health rather than being harvested. And, they are a key part of regenerative agriculture. They can help to minimize soil erosion, enhance moisture retention, smother weeds and improve soil health.

When it comes to incorporating cover crops into your garden, you should go for those that winter-kill easily. Such crops will be killed by the freezing winter temperatures. They will then cover the soil, thus providing the much-needed protection during the cold months. At the same time, they will decompose into organic matter during the warm months, thus enriching the soil.

Clovers and peas are among the best winter-kill cover crops for gardeners. They establish and grow quickly, thus providing great weed suppression. Also, peas will add nitrogen to the soil, through a process known as nitrogen fixation.

Tillage radish is also a great option to for as a cover crop, especially if you are struggling with compacted soils in your garden. Their deep root will grow into the soil, loosen it and improve structure and drainage. It will then die off in winter and its residue will act as food for beneficial soil bacteria.

Consider Mulching


If you are not in a situation to use cover crops, then you can also opt for mulching. Mulching applies the same principle as cover cropping. But in this case, you will cover the soil with materials like wood chips, bark, dead leaves, or straw.

Just like using cover crops, mulching will help to prevent your garden’s top soil from drying out, add nutrients, suppress weeds and improve soil structure. And, all these will preserve microbiological life while improving soil health.

For best results, it’s recommended to cover the soil with at least two inches thick of mulch. Also, mulch will decompose and deteriorate over time, thus losing its effectiveness. So, ensure you are doing it regularly. The frequency will depend on the mulching material you are using.

Practice Intensive Planting


As its name suggests, intensive planting entails packing the plants in or planting them as close as possible to each other. When closely planted crops will act as a blanket for the soil, thus protecting it. They will keep the soil shaded, helping it to lock in more moisture. Also, they will suppress weeds and minimize soil erosion.

But, we should point out that intensive planting isn’t for everyone. First, it’s only recommended for raised gardens. It doesn’t work quite well for in-ground gardens. Second, intensive planting will only work if you are ready to tend to your garden frequently – at least every few days.

In Summary

By adopting regenerative gardening, you will help to replenish and nourish the soil all while enjoying a bumper harvest. At the same time, you will be playing your part in mitigating climate change.

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About the author:
Peter is a content writer and a lifelong lover of plants and
gardening. When he isn’t writing, Peter spends most of his time gardening,
cooking, watching his favorite documentaries and playing pocket

Jon M

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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