It’s clear we’re at an environmental crossroads; the way we lead our lives has a direct impact on the climate, seas and soil. So, it’s important to make small changes when gardening and get into good growing habits.
Plastic pots are a big problem, but what do you do with them? Keep re-using them. I’ve had mine for years, and by re-using them, I save money and keep them out of a landfill site. If you have to buy new pots, try ones made from coir.
Cardboard toilet rolls are great for sowing peas, sweet peas or broad beans. Their shape helps give these plants a good root system, and as cardboard is biodegradable, both the plant and the tube can be planted out together.
If you’re looking to keep costs down, make friends with the wooden pallet. Whether it’s a garden bench, planter for herbs, or a compost bay, all you need is a little time and imagination.
If you have spare guttering, attach it to a fence or wall, fill it with compost, and you’ve got yourself a mini raised bed for lettuce or pea shoots. Empty jars can all be re-purposed to grow seeds and plants. Get the kids involved as it’s important they know where their food comes from. Make it fun, grow micro-greens in open eggshells and let your kids draw faces on them. Teach a child how to nurture a plant, and you give them a future.
Worried about water costs and a changing climate? Drought tolerant plants could be your answer. At the Chelsea Flower Show 2019, the ‘Plant of the Year’ was the drought tolerant plant sedum ‘Atlantis’ (available from Suttons Seeds).
Water your plants first thing in the morning or at dusk, when temperatures are lower and there’s less water evaporation. Water at the base of the plants, and not the entire bed, so there’s less waste. Mulching around the base of flowers also prevents moisture loss. Re-use your ‘grey’ water, whether it’s washing-up or bath water. As long as it doesn’t contain salt or bleach, then it’s fit for purpose.
Keep costs down by sharing seed purchases with your fellow gardeners; group together and each buy a different pack of crop seeds to share. Or you could join a gardening ‘seed circle’ in which each grower saves seeds from a particular plant to share with the other growers. These groups not only create a wonderful community spirit, but they help strengthen the biodiversity of local crops.
If it’s flowers you prefer, a few perennials go a long way. When the time’s right, divide and replant. Take cuttings of your established plants, and gain extra plants for nothing.
If your flower spend only goes so far, plant your flowers near the house, patio and paths, where you can see and smell them. Try separating them into pots, it’ll look as though you have more plants than you actually have.
Wild flowers are big at the moment, and an unkept area of the garden can do wonders for the wildlife. With so many gardens being lost to paved driveways and building developments, ‘nature’ highways are being lost, preventing wildlife to safely pass through our communities, so it’s important to help where we can.
And for those who don’t have a garden, how can you get your horticultural fix?
A bright kitchen windowsill is ideal for a pot of herbs, chillies or peppers, and with more dwarf varieties now available, you can grow a lot in a small space.
If you have a balcony, grow potatoes in a bag or carrots in an old bucket. If you can’t grow out, grow up with a trailing variety of squashes up a netted drainpipe. Remember those pots and empty jars you found? Attach them to garden twine and suspend them to grow trailing plants.
There’s no getting away from the pleasures of growing edibles and blooms, but if you can’t get onto the allotment waiting list, there could be a community garden scheme in your area. One such scheme is ‘Lend & Tend’. If you don’t have a space but want to garden, they put you in touch with garden owners in the area who have the space but can’t garden. The only cost is time and commitment.
Incredible Edible is an organisation inspiring people to take food production back into their own hands. Any piece of wasted land that has potential to grow food, be it a curb-side or a park corner, they will work it. It’s literally a growing movement across the UK.
A gardener can adapt, change and grow. So, let’s embrace these strengths and be mindful of our environmental responsibilities to create a place of sustainability and biodiversity.
Ade is a freelance presenter, blogger, vlogger, writer and multimedia producer. From filming, scripting, directing and editing; Ade creates professional films of garden shows, interviews and live events for various clients. adesellars.com/
Both Ade and his wife Sophie run the blog, ‘Agents of Field’, which won the GMG Awards ‘Blog of the Year 2016’. agentsoffield.com/