Whether you have been gardening for a while and are looking to up your game or if you are just starting, there are lots of alternative gardening methods you can try. There are many things to consider when making your choice, such as budget, space limitations, upkeep and what you are looking to grow. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites and some information on each to get you started.
This is where you still use a traditional in-ground garden bed but bury a core of organic matter about 300mm below the surface. We have tried a few different types of materials but the best result we have had is using a mixture of small logs, mulch and straw. Moisture soaks into all this organic matter giving the plants water and food. We use this method in our backyard and have found it successful especially in the hot summer months. One of the downsides is that this core needs to be replaced annually as it breaks down.
Aquaponics and Hydroponics
Aquaponics and Hydroponics are both soil-less gardening method, aquaponics uses fish waste to feed your plants while hydroponics uses a nutrient solution which you add to the water. From a plant perspective, there is little difference between aquaponics and hydroponics, but fish are another factor to consider in regards to maintenance and upkeep. However, edible fish can be grown with your plants in aquaponics making for a source of meat from your backyard. Both are very water-efficient when fully functioning but can require more maintenance than in-ground planting.
Growing containers is a great way to grow plants if your backyard has a minimal planting space like a balcony or largely paved backyard. It also gives you the option if you are renting or move frequently to take your garden with you. Container gardening is quite efficient for water, however, will require small amounts more often as the containers of soil dry faster than the ground. Self-watering pots can be a great option for this to keep watering down.
Straw Bale Gardening
Straw bales make great raised garden beds and are great if you have no existing garden beds. The straw holds moisture and as the bales break down, they supply nutrients to the plants. Before planting in the bales they require conditioning, for about 2 weeks you need to soak and fertilize the bales.
Square foot gardening
Square foot gardening is an intensive way of growing plants, to maximize space and yields for a small area. One of the advantages of square foot gardening is that there are clear guidelines of how many plants you can grow per square foot.
Wicking beds are usually a raised garden bed with a well of water in the base, which wicks up through the soil hydrating the plants. As wicking beds are raised, there is no bending to the ground and the are very water efficient.
At the end of the day, there is no one universal perfect gardening method. Explore for yourself the many options and adjust them to what suits you. That will be what is right for you.