Easy tips for sustainable gardening…

Easy tips for sustainable gardening…


Would you like your garden to be more
sustainable? I’ve been going around my garden to find some of the easiest and
money-saving ways to be more eco-friendly – and it is important to find
eco-friendly tips that save you time or money or easy to do, because then you’re
much more likely to do them more often. It’s only by changing habits that
we can really have a sustainable garden and collectively we urban gardeners
actually run quite a lot of the open space available in towns and cities. So
let’s start with sustainable plastic. Most plants are sold in black plastic pots which can’t go through the
recycling because the sources can’t pick up the black tint in the pots. A number
of nurseries are now selling plants in recyclable pots so look out for those
and if you have been buying plants in black plastic pots, then reuse them for
your own planting – there’s no need I don’t think – to make pots out of
newspaper or to buy more pots because there are just so many plant pots
tucked away in our potting sheds anyway. If you don’t have lots of black plastic
pots maybe a gardening friend does – I’m sure I’d be absolutely thrilled to give
any of my pots away – and perhaps you can have a pot exchange evening or something. And what about other single-use plastics in the garden like, for example,
the bags that compost is sold in? A nursery near me, Edible Culture,
is now selling their compost in reusable bags for life
so you pay slightly more for the bag and the compost when you first buy it, but
then you take the bag back and you get a refill and that costs slightly less, and
that’s a really good idea so you could look out for nurseries doing that and you can also order compost in bulk. But of course making your own
compost is the most environmentally friendly thing you can do because you’re
returning the nutrients to the soil. The thing to know about making compost is
that there are two ways of making compost – there’s the fast hot method
which involves knowing a bit about the percentages of what kind of material
goes into your compost heap – and then there’s the slower easy method which I
do where you really just throw pretty much any green matter and vegetable
peelings and any raw fruits and veg in your compost bin. Now this does take a
lot longer to compost down so you will find that you do also have to buy
compost but it is incredibly easy and it’s still a very useful amount of
compost. There’s a post up with more about this in the description below. And if you
have to buy compost, the important thing is to look for peat free. The RHS says
that no gardener should be buying a peat based compost because the damage this
does to the environment is huge. I’ve been given some Western New Horizon Bio 3
peat free compost to trial and I’ve been trying it against the standard peat
based compost which I happen to have around and I think it’s very good. I’ve
actually had better seed germination from that than from the standard compost. What about bonfires?
well bonfires aren’t good for the environment because of the smoke. However
bonfire ash is actually very good for the garden so when you do a bonfire
scatter the ashes on the beds and that will help add nutrients back into the
soil. Saving water in the garden – well water is a very big issue in many places
around the world and in the garden water is responsible for about 30 percent of
your domestic consumption. The best thing you can do is NOT to water your lawn
because the lawn will go brown in the drought but it will recover. Get water
butts but get the biggest you can, because a small water butt will dry out very
quickly in a drought ,and if you can re-use household water such as water from
the condenser drying machine then that’s great as well. There’s more about this in
the description below and links to videos on this. What about sustainable
garden furniture – well the most sustainable thing is to reuse and
recycle. Going around the garden I can see that the sewing machine table that
my mother gave me in the 1980s is wonderfully environmentally friendly and
we bought four metal chairs from a depot vente (second-hand store) in France. You can get secondhand
furniture in junk shops and many charity shops now have furniture departments, so
put ‘charity furniture shop near me’ into Google and you can also try eBay, Freecycle and Freegle. And don’t just think about garden
furniture – a friend of mine has bought a wonderful glass and metal office table
for her garden and of course anything that will be fine outside can work as
garden furniture. If you’re buying new garden furniture, look for eco-friendly
credentials such as for wood ‘FSC certification’. That means Forestry
Stewardship Council and they police things like illegal logging,
deforestation and the conditions that people work under in the timber industry.
What about plant labels? For years I’ve been using plastic plant labels and they
get scattered all around the garden, in the beds and in the compost heaps, and
they’re really irritating. This year I’ve bought some Nutley’s wooden plant
labels and they’re a little bit cheaper and they’re just as easy to use and they
will biodegrade. And I could also have bought even more
cheaply wooden lollypop sticks and there’s a link to that in the
description below. Plant ties are also sometimes made of plastic. I’ve been
using wool and jute plant ties for quite some time because I was sent them for
review and actually they’re very good, but a professional gardening friend of
mine once told me that you can support trees and larger shrubs with pieces of
tights cut-up tights or stockings cut up and, of course, these are fantastically
flexible materials,- they won’t harm the wood and you’re reusing something you’ve
already got. What about sustainable garden supports – well I find that the
plastic and the plastic covered carbon supports really aren’t strong enough
anyway. I’ve got some u-shaped metal garden supports which I can just jam in
anywhere where plant is flopping over and also some of the bigger peony supports
and so on, but I also make my own cut plant supports out of birch twigs and
actually that is quite easy (and I’m not a particularly handy person). There’s
a video about that in the description below. So what about
sustainable garden paving – well, stone and brick and gravel and shingle are all
mined or use natural materials in some way but obviously stone and brick are very
long lasting. You can find recycled garden path materials but one of the most
important things about sustainable paving is to make sure you’re not
contributing to runoff. If you have a driveway or a patio or path or terrace
it’s important to make sure that the water can soak in around the pavers and that
it’s not one solid sheet of concrete or stone with cement based pointing in it. Because if you have heavy rain and water goes rushing over a driveway or over a
terrace that’s what contributes to flash
flooding in towns and cities. We have a seashell path – it’s cockleshell mulch and
it’s a byproduct from the seafood industry – and we laid it on top of an
existing gravel path and there’s more about that in a link in the description
below – that’s very environmentally friendly because it’s not mining.
One of the top things you can do have a sustainable garden is to plant
a tree or not to cut a tree down. Trees are fantastic carbon sinks in towns and
cities and they also support wildlife in many ways. Because of the building that’s
going on at the moment, a lot of trees are being lost collectively.
It may look like just one or two on each building site but that does add up to quite a lot in every town
and city and that has an impact for our air quality. And then there’s using
environmentally friendly pest controls. I use slug pellets made of ferric
phosphate which are certified for organic use but there are a lot of people who
feel that any slug pellets are really not helpful to wild life and they use
things like anti slug mulches or copper. I personally have not found
copper very successful but it’s worth a try. You may have to use plastic netting to keep birds
off your crops but you can reuse it, so it’s not a
single-use plastic and also I have several friends who keep the birds off
their crops by jamming twigs in the ground. It seems to discourage the
pigeons from walking in amongst the kale and lettuces. I’m actually trying this
out this year with plastic netting covering some kale and some spinach in one
bed and just birch twigs covering the same type of kale and spinach in another to
see actually how well this works. I didn’t really understand how it works
but it does seem to work so maybe it’s try. Then it’s important to plant pollinator
friendly plants we hear a lot about wildlife meadows, and of course they are
at wonderful for wildlife but you don’t have to have wildlife planting to have
pollinator friendly garden. The most important thing is to have flowers in
your garden from as early in the year to as late in the year as you can, so there is
something for pollinators to feed on and a lot of companies these days will put
on the plant label whether it’s pollinator friendly or bee friendly, and
a lot of companies selling seeds allow you to search via ‘pollinator
friendly’ categories or ‘bee friendly’ categories which is really helpful. Essentially however the double or more elaborate flowers are more
difficult for pollinators to get nectar out of so try to plant single
flowers where you can obviously see the center of them. Sustainable garden
boundaries – hedges are much more environmentally friendly than fences
because they offer a habitat for wildlife and because they also help
improve air quality like all green planting. If you’re buying a fence look
for FSC certification for the wood, and also if you have a gravel board at the base, which is
a sort of solid plank made of cement, make sure there’s a few holes in it
because wildlife need to roam from garden to garden, especially hedgehogs.
And what about bat boxes and bug hotels? They’ve become something of a fashion
accessory in the last few years so it is important to make sure that you actually
get them right and I’d advise consulting the various Wildlife Trusts – and there
are links in the description below – to make sure that you actually use the
right materials and you position them in the right places. And a very simple way
of supporting bugs is simply to have a little corner of the garden where you
throw twigs and bits of logs and a few bits of broken pottery just tucked out
of the way and they will be very grateful for that. There are links to
everything I’ve mentioned in the description below and also to a blog
post on the Middle-sized Garden blog which has a sustainable garden checklist,
showing how you can make your garden more environmentally friendly easily, which will also save you money. And do press ‘like’ if you’ve enjoyed this because then I
know you would like to see more eco friendly and environmentally friendly
videos on the Middle-sized Garden and if you haven’t subscribed we come
out weekly with gardening tips, ideas and inspiration for people whose gardens are
middle-sized.

12 thoughts on “Easy tips for sustainable gardening…

  1. Some very useful tips, thank you. I didn't get on well with wooden plant labels though as I found writing in pencil or even permanent ink disappeared when they got wet. Hope you have more success with them 😊

  2. We have a grower's outlet where we buy our plants that requests return of the black plastic pots, which they reuse. It encourages me to shop there as when I start accumulating too many pots I feel the need to visit them ( although I don't need a reason). Will have to look for purchase of compost in reusable bags as it bothers me that I throw out so much plastic in the purchase of soil and compost.

  3. Happy Easter Alexandra, I love seeing useable shell path πŸ’•πŸ’œπŸ’—πŸŽˆπŸ’–β€οΈπŸ˜πŸ‘ so beautiful. (I wish I was able to get that here). I always look forward to your videos, thank you for sharing. Take care and God Bless, Chris-Raleigh NC

  4. Great video, wish I had those beautiful shells here in the states, I live in the Mid Atlantic where the oyster shell is used, big ones, not so pretty. I'm glad you're sharing links for bug hotels an bat houses, both of which I've wanted to have in the garden for some time now, now I can do it right, Thanks for sharing.

  5. This was so great and helpful! Thank you so much.β˜ΊοΈπŸ’œI love seeing your garden along with the tips.

  6. Lots of good ideas here, thanks. I have a huge tub of various timber stakes and metal/plastic supports in the garden shed, for regular reuse. They do look rather grotty after two years however once a plant grows up and over them you dont't look at the stakes, you look at the beautiful plant.

    I have a unique method of composting which works well for me and results in rich compost with a lot of humus, bits of half decomposed twigs, leaves, etc. It retains moisture incredibly well in the garden and plants can live off the moisture and food provided by further decomposition for an entire season. I like the hot composting method, enabled by copious quantities of used coffee grounds, free from my local cafe.

    The most vexing sustainability issue is those horrid plastic pots. Why don't garden centres grow plants inside fibre pots which sit inside plastic pots? When the customer buys a plant, the garden centre removes the fibre pot from the plastic pot, keeps the plastic pot for reuse, and hands over the (wet) fibre pot to the customer, who can place it in their own plastic resusable pot (that they brought from home) to take home? Well, this idea might have flaws but they had better come up with something feasible soon as we all feel guilty looking at those piles of accumulated black plastic pots sitting in sheds or a remote corner of the yard, gathering dust.

  7. Im new to gardening and I'm in love with your information thank you sooo much you now have a new subscriber..

  8. Tqtq….for sharing all your wonderful tips…very interesting and brilliant ideas…😍…πŸ‘

  9. I understand that it takes a lot of work to create wonderful shows and full of inspiration! Thank youβ˜€οΈπŸŒΊπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ’•πŸ·

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