Vegan gardening refers to gardening without the use of animal products. Animal products are mainly used in gardening for fertilising and improving soil quality, however there are alternatives that work as just as well that are completely plant based. Let’s cover the basics:

Composting

Composting is something I’m sure we have all heard of, and when done right, it’s a great addition to your garden. Composting is a great way to start making your own manure, and you don’t need to be a garden enthusiast to start. Composting breaks down organic matter and food scraps that are full of nutrients, adding nutrients back into your soil. 

Companion planting

Companion planting is a method of growing plants close together that assist each other well. For example, near a fruit tree Chrysanthemums would deter insects and pests well. This style of companion planting is common amongst many gardeners. Doing this removes the need for pesticides and other harmful chemicals, it also improves growth and flavour to your food.

Plant based fertilisers 

Using plant-based fertilisers are a great alternative to animal-based ones, they offer better quality such as moisture retention and soil conditioning. Ones that I have found work really well are:

–       Cottonseed meal

–       Legume cover crops 

–       Seaweed

–       Compost tea 

Plant based liquid fertilisers 

When the growing season kicks off, your garden will spring to life. This is a perfect time to apply a small boost of liquid fertiliser. The effects of liquid fertiliser are fast felt due to its ability to access the plant’s root system quickly. It’s also great for making up lost time, and giving your plants a controlled boost. 

Making your own liquid fertiliser

There’s a number of ways that you can make liquid fertiliser, my favourite method that’s relatively easy is seaweed that I collected from the beach, however I understand it’s not accessible to everyone. Seaweed is nutrient dense so the best way to extract some of these nutrients is by soaking it in water, I placed my seaweed in a bucket of water in a dark area for around 8 weeks, it did get a bit smelly, but the end result was a perfect liquid fertiliser ready for my garden.

vegan gardening

How to get started – picking your first plants to grow 

This is where you can become unstuck when you begin gardening. It’s important to pick produce that is easy to grow, preferably something with a quick grow time that is resilient. Doing this will keep you motivated and down the track when your experience builds you can increase the complexity of your garden. I started with a small herb garden which I kept in little pots, this provided me with ongoing topping for dinner time and the confidence to expand later.

Using pellets as fertiliser 

From years of gardening and watching things in nature, I have learned to never leave your soil exposed. Soil in nature is always naturally covered by foliage that’s slowly decomposing, and your soil should remain covered as well. Recently I have begun reading more about the use of pellets sold as food for horses and goats and the benefits they bring to your garden, as they contain high levels of nitrogen and are also plant based. When choosing pellets I was always sure to check the ingredients for things such as fats and oils that don’t belong in your garden. Placing these pellets in water than mixing them in with the soil will allow for a slow release of nutrients to your garden. 


Editor’s note: You’ll find tips to start your own indoor plant collection here. Plus we love these two books from Booktopia on vegan gardening:


About the Author

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Tristan is a writer from Sydney Gardeners and is passionate about sustainability and the environment. His passion has grown from his experience working in nature. You can view more of his works here.

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