31 May 2019
Living lightly on our planet
Huge concerns now abound about the effect we humans are having on our planet. It can feel a bit hopeless: what on earth, quite literally, can we do as individuals to prevent the catastrophic events now predicted? So I did a bit of thinking, and research to see if there are some simple, inexpensive things we gardeners can do. Some of these suggestions also apply if you are not convinced by the arguments from scientists about climate change as they can save you time and money.
Conserve water. Water butts are cheap and fairly easy to install and it is surprising how much water comes off even a small shed or greenhouse. Rainwater is also better for plants such as orchids, and ericaceous plants such as azaleas, camellias, blueberries and acers as it is usually acidic. Mulching your borders after a few days’ rain prevents the soil from drying out so quickly and keeps the weeds down. If you make your own compost that helps reduce your carbon footprint too.
Reuse your plastic plant pots. At the moment you can’t recycle them, but they can be used again and again. I have several plant sales for charity over the spring and summer months and kind pals give me their pots so I very rarely buy any now. There are now taupe pots that have been specifically designed to be recycled easily, but I understand it is still hard to find a recycler; no doubt that will change soon. You can use the inside of loo rolls as pots for seedlings: I did so for my sweet peas this year. I have also been given a ‘paper potter’ to try. This is a gadget that enables you to make pots out of old newspapers.
Support and encourage biodiversity. Plant trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials that bees and other beneficial insects can feed on and so thrive. A small tree can provide a home for all kinds of creatures and if you plant a fruit tree you can enjoy the harvest too. Herbs are good; we have several rosemary bushes here at Charnwood, they were all covered in bees from early spring. Early spring flowers provide food for bees when there is little else around for them. Frogs and toads like a pile of damp logs to snooze under, so don’t be too tidy!
If you have any other suggestions please send them to me and I will gladly pass them on through this column.
Now is a good time to sow seeds of biennial plants such as foxgloves, wallflowers and forget me nots. I sowed some foxgloves direct where I wanted them to flower some years ago and simply thinned them out in situ. They are now well established in the garden and seed around happily.
Don’t forget the excellent Tollerton Gardening Club plant stall at the village event. I have many lovely plants in my garden, some really unusual, from there.
June is a lovely month to do some garden visiting, and the National Garden Scheme ‘yellow book’ gardens are often well worth a visit. The closest ones I can find this month are at 125 Shelford Road in Radcliffe, open 23 June from 1.30 and Rose Cottage at 81 Nottingham Road in Keyworth on 30 June from 12. Both have teas and plants for sale: a pretty garden to mooch around, good home-grown plants to buy and tea and cake, plus it’s all for charity, what more could you want? More NGS gardens to visit can be found at www.ngs.org.uk