What is regenerative gardening and my efforts to explain it
Nov 4, 2020.

Making a poster about what I'm doing focused the question 'What is regenerative gardening ?'Making a poster about what I'm doing focused the question 'What is regenerative gardening ?' A work in progress rather than done.

After several years of gardening with natural inputs based on permaculture, and over a year of using a more focused regenerative approach I ask myself why I am the only person in my neighborhood who knows what I am doing. Others may not care, but perhaps they do, or perhaps they are at least curious. Perhaps not everyone just thinks my garden is unkempt and I'm lazy.

I don't think this is necessarily a gardening activity per se, but for me it is regenerative on a larger scale. How can I have any real impact when my community is not benefiting from this amazing new direction. Why am I regenerating my soil when its being destroyed in my vicinity ? I want to bring my community into the picture. I want to at least try, and perhaps even develop relationships.

To this end I started to make a poster to wire to my fence, that would explain what regenerative gardening is and help keep others informed. It turned out to be much more difficult than I thought.

Firstly the poster was very wordy and took me several hours just for the first stage. I didn't know what to leave out and what was the most important thing to bring across to attract people. Lastly, I wasn't too clear on what regenerative gardening was myself !

So what is
regenerative gardening ?

I can only say what I believe at present. Regenerative gardening is about increasing ecosystem function in your garden, rather than decreasing it, as most gardens do. Its foundation is building healthy soil, with the intent of bringing about all the knock on benefits that stem from this regeneration and last but not least helping to conserve biodiversity.

Regenerative gardening and agriculture build the earth into a better state, rather than degrading it, as mainstream agriculture and gardening do with their digging and ploughing, use of chemicals, weeding, and baring of the soil for long periods. This degeneration of agricultural and horticultural soils has been taken for granted rather than avoided, over much of history, leading to the creation of deserts over many areas of the globe. Our urban landscapes are some of the most degraded areas on the planet.

Regenerative agriculture has five principles: minimal disturbance, keeping living roots in the ground as long as possible, soil cover (preferably plants), diversity and integrating animals.

For some of its techniques regenerative gardening leans on regenerative agriculture, but it is very much adapted to the urban situation with smaller scale, greater human impact, and the inability to engage the help of herds of cows. .

Biodiversity and soil regeneration go together. Planting diversity supports healthy soil and healthy soil supports diversity. Diversity and soil cover go together, close plantings of many diverse plants keep the soil covered. Diverse planting and keeping living roots also go together. If you tolerate your weeds for the sake of diversity, if you clip the invaders back, but don't remove them, and plant a mix of perennials and annuals, then there is much less uprooting of plants. Diverse plants support insect and other biodiversity, and those support plants in turn. Diverse plants create greater soil life diversity, deepen the top soil and help with the no till or minimal disturbance regime. In short, each principle supports some others.

This set of positive feedback loops and virtuous cycles leads to regeneration of the topsoil and the life in the soil, and these bring carbon draw down, water cycle and catchment restoration, different mechanisms of global warming reduction, plenty of green beauty and more nutrient dense food, and a very resilient and healthy partly man made, partly natural ecosystem that will need less inputs like water, compost and work.

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I've been writing for four years now and I would love to hear from you

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or stories to share on gardening, permaculture, regenerative agriculture, food forests, natural gardening, do nothing gardening, observations about pests and diseases, foraging, dealing with and using weeds constructively, composting and going offgrid.

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