Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Why Gardening Is Not Sustainable

Sustainability. What does it mean really?

Its a very broad term which at its essence describes the ability of a complex web of inter-relationships to endure. More specifically for us humans, it refers to the healthy inter-relationship between the environment, healthy society and the economy.
The beautiful spiral of Ctenium grass
Seldom has a word meant so much and yet so little at the same time. Its used as a clarion call by environmentalists and other greenies as they try to enthuse an apathetic populace. But its also peppered throughout the speech of politicians, economists and developers, as they attempt to greenwash their (often anything but sustainable) activities.

Let me put it another way - I'm not great at budgets, but even I know that its not sustainable (there's that word again) to spend more than I earn. If I do, I'll be soon be homeless, my health will suffer from the stress, and/or I'll have to take shortcuts (which will soon catch up with me) as I make my finances suit my lifestyle, and not the other way around.

Gardening (and I'm just picking on gardening here, but this applies to most if not all professions) for the last several decades has been built around the mistaken decision to decide on a lifestyle that we want, and make it happen - be damned the consequences.

So we look at the glossy magazines showing gardens that are photographed at their cornucopial prime, that in reality only look like that for maybe 2 months of the year. And we expect our garden to look like that all year round. So we plant unrealistically, we fertilize to death, we water until there is nothing left in the taps - and finally we get our perfect garden.

When is this going to change?

The problem, I think speaks to an underlying human condition called greed that sadly, is not easily remedied. But if anybody should understand the importance of living sustainably, it should be us gardeners. If anybody should be leading the way in the sustainable lifestyle, it should be we who live close to the ground. It should be those of us who see the cyclical and seasonal nature of things, and know first hand that what you sow, you will reap.

When are we going to wake up, and take stock of our lifestyle, and make the kind of fundamental changes that we absolutely have to?
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