A new season in the garden, & a very busy one at that, but I’ve made time to think about how I go about gardening.
We’ve been here for 2 years, so it seemed a good time to review how it’s all going, & especially my quest for sustainable gardening.
I’ve got a check-list in my head, but it helps to write it down & has made me realise that I’m not doing as well as I thought I was.
One of the most important things to improve the soil & use up waste from the kitchen & the garden. Composting is under-way in 2 big wooden bins, so it’s a waiting game.
Reduce what you bring into the garden & what you take out:
Compost for growing seeds & potting-on has been the main one recently.
Some additional garden furniture, 2 grey wicker chairs & a little sofa from Tesco for our little summer-house. The plain, brown cardboard went on the raised beds to warm up the soil, & when that’s done it’ll be shredded & added to the compost bin.
Then I discovered the local tip, where they sell items that are in reasonably good nick, furniture, children’s toys etc. I was very happy to give a new home to 2 wicker chairs for only £2 each. Check out if you have a recycling centre near you, because there are some bargains to be had.
Don’t bother with pesticides:
There’s still a battle with pests, but it’s a healthy one.
This is one way of helping plants to be healthier, disease can build up in the soil if vegetables are planted in the same place. This also applies to roses, they suffer from ‘specific replant disesease’ if planted where roses grew previously, meaning they’re more susceptible to disease.
Encourage beneficial wildlife:
The theory being that they’ll feast on pests, it’s a gradual process but eventually you get a balance. I’m attempting this by having a wide range of plants, a pond & good soil for those tiny beneficial insects.
Same as above really, but they are so good at eating pests that they deserve a special mention. They’re more likely to take up residence if there are handy nest-boxes, food, water & nesting places. I haven’t been consistent with this, especially the food, & we haven’t any nesting boxes.
Mulch, nurture & love your soil:
One of the most important things, because everything in the garden depends on it. Home made compost is key, then bought stuff, because it is difficult to make enough.
Choose the right plant for the right place.
We’ve all tried to grow a plant that we know wasn’t right for the garden, wrong soil, not enough sun etc. I’ve gradually learned to embrace what I can grow, because ultimately, it’s a waste of time, money & resources to do otherwise.
Grow a few plants from seed:
This uses up far fewer resources than buying them in, it saves money & I’m doing quite well with this one.
Grow some food:
A window box of salad leaves, a pot of herbs or an allotment. I’ve ditched the allotment for 6 raised vegetable beds, & a few small spots in the garden. Allotments are the answer for many people, it just wasn’t near enough to where we live now. This is the first year of growing here, so it’ll be interesting to see how much produce we get from a smaller area.
Make your own fertiliser:
Gather nettles & leave them to soak in a covered bucket of water, the resultant liquid, well diluted, makes a good, though smelly, nitrogen-rich feed, so it’s good for leafy greens.
Steep comfrey for a potassium-rich liquid fertiliser, good for flowering plants & fruiting ones such as tomatoes.
More about Higgledy Garden here
Ideas from The Royal Horticultural Society about encouraging wildlife into the garden here
If this is all new to you, just tackle one idea at a time, & please leave a comment if you have any tips to add.
all photos: Jill Anderson