Gardening During COVID-19
COVID-19 has everyone at home, and it is no surprise more people have taken up gardening as a pastime. However, the traditional way of gardening can involve chemicals and animal products that are not vegan-friendly and therefore, in order to create yourself a vegan-friendly garden, there are important details to look out for.
Moreover, since a vegan diet is made of things that grow, it makes perfect sense to develop your own garden!
TRADITIONAL WAY OF GARDENING – IS IT VEGAN?
Traditional gardening makes use of bone meal, blood meal and fish meal.
Though plants like tomatoes, onions and peppers benefit a considerable amount from blood meal, it is definitely not vegan-friendly as blood meal is a slaughterhouse by-product.
The use of traditional manure also presents a problem. Even though manure is arguably a waste product and may not harm animals during its creation, as consumers invest more in buying and using manure, it can be expected that due to increased demand, there is “pressure of farmers and slaughterhouses for increased supply”.
The waste becomes a type of supply customers want and therefore, through pressure to create manure, contributes to the exploitation of animals.
ARE GARDENING TOOLS VEGAN?
However, it isn’t just ingredients we should be concerned about. There is also the issue that in traditional gardening, materials such as leather gloves and holsters are often used. Since leather is made by using the hide of animals such as cows and crocodiles, it is certainly not animal friendly.
Some other non-vegan friendly aspects of traditional gardening include:
- Worm composting
- Oyster shell/other fish products
- Potting mixes and soil conditioners
- Pesticides which have detrimental effects on the health of pets and the environment as well as humans.
- Guano (fertiliser obtained from birds/bats); the harmful aspect comes when their droppings are removed from caves as this has adverse effects for the biodiversity of the area.
As a result, many vegans and organisations have now come forward and have been “recognising the need for a fundamental restructuring of food production method and land use and their importance for human and well-being and social justice, for animal welfare and biodiversity and in the battle for environmental sustainability,” according to Veganorganic.net.
Vegan-friendly gardens may be the answer. Balcony Garden Web say they make use of green manures and plant-based fertilisers and make use of a “balanced eco-system, one where ladybugs and aphids and other natural predators and prey co-exist” among the plants.
As manure is crucial in gardening for effective growth of your plants, it may be worrying to avoid it altogether for your vegan garden.
However, those who have approached the issue say “fertilising turned out to be a smaller problem than I thought” as there are many alternatives to be utilised.
For example, bokashi composting which utilises kitchen scraps and turns into soil in a few weeks’ time. Another way to avoid manure is through mulching – this uses plant products like hay and grass clippings and has been described by vegan gardeners as “a simple method where I just cover the soil with plant material…The material will transform into great fertilizer with the help of the worms in the soil.”
Also, rather than using harmful pesticides which negatively affect animals as well as the environment, you can opt for more natural options to repel pests. For example, using mint can act as a form of control for ants, using basil can act as a repellent against flies and using coriander can act as a repellent against aphids and spider mites.
To stay on the path of a natural approach to gardening, you could also make your own fertiliser at home.
Another great ingredient you could use for your vegan garden such as coco peat which is made from the husks of coconuts – Balcony Garden Web says: “It’s a beneficial product for plant growers and provides an alternative growing medium… It increases water retention, aeration and provides antifungal benefits when used alone or incorporated into the soil as an ingredient.”
You can use coco peat by directly adding it to your garden soil or to mulch.
Some other vegan garden-friendly products include:
- Down To Earth Vegan Mix fertilizer
- Alfalfa meal
- Cottonseed meal
- Soybean meal
Therefore, while we need to be conscious when creating own vegan garden, there are many effective alternatives to the traditional gardening methods and products. By utilising these, we can definitely create a well-functioning vegan-friendly garden to grow some of our favourite plants and vegetables.