As the notion of ecological gardening becomes ever more popular, a lot of people are curious about what this term means. This is a combination of environmental science and horticulture. Environmental science is a study of the behavior of natural ecosystems and horticulture involves the production of food. When combined, you have the application of natural laws that people have observed in ecosystems to make food production as efficient as it can possibly be.
As such, studying natural ecosystems will invariably reveal the secrets to efficient and successful farming. There are both living and nonliving aspects of natural ecosystems,with each of these interacting with the others in a way that is mutually beneficial. If even one of these components is eliminated, this can have an incredibly detrimental impact on all other factors that have relied upon it. For instance, an animal species might become extinct if the the favorite plant food of this animal is removed from the ecosystems, while the prey of this extinct species could experience a population boom that proves unsustainable once its natural competitor or predator has been removed from the system.
Nature despises the removal of these components and often works to instantly replace them, given that the ecosystem is reliant upon everything interacting in a balanced fashion. The removal of any essential component in environmental science creates what is known as an empty niche. There are multiple ways to fill this niche, including seeds that may have been dormant for a number of years, an enhanced role for an existing species, or even the migration of an entirely new species to the related ecosystem.
When growing foods, humans are essentially creating ecosystems in their gardens that are fundamentally similar to natural ecosystems. When we plant vegetables with no regard for niches that are empty, weeds can crop up that will fill in the gaps within the ecosystems we’ve created. Weeds are known as the ultimate colonizers within the plant world and thus, once they are present, they can easily destroy the food crops that humans intend to consume.
The good news is that we can learn how to prevent both empty niche spaces and the weeds that overtake them through environmental science, without having to use chemicals that might cause harm to both humans and plants, in addition to harming the weeds. There is a very simple solution – just avoid empty niches. If it is not possible to avoid empty niche spaces, try filling these up with something worthwhile, so that weeds never have the chance to take over. This will keep your garden weed-free while limiting the amount of maintenance that you have to do and increasing the amount that your garden actually yields.
I am qualified in both environmental science and horticulture and thus, I am qualified to tell you just how well each of these fields works with the other. I use soil ecology, natural management for weeds, crop management and even principles of pest ecology that I have gleaned from environmental science to support my personal garden. This has had excellent results given that the vegetables I produce are of excellent quality and require very little maintenance. The processes that are capable of producing these results are simple enough, which makes me confident that ecological gardening is the wave of the future in food production.
There are plenty of quacks out there that claim to produce innovative chemicals for simplifying the food growing process. Ask what the science behind these chemicals are and you won’t get much of a response. This is not a philosophy that I stand behind. I am all for the use of sound science and have diligently studied environmental science to get amazing horticultural results. This is a common sense solution to our continued efforts to naturally and safely increase the food supply.
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