I’ve always been a keen re-user of things in the garden, my first show garden at Hampton Court featured a deck made from old scaffold boards and a base from recycled timber.
Apart from the thrill of re-using something [is that just me?] it’s a way of using less of our precious resources on this planet, which are fast diminishing.
These are my ten steps for a sustainable garden:
Start with small steps, the motto is ‘Bring as little into the garden and take out as little as possible’
1 Conserve water, save rainwater by connecting up rain barrels to guttering and reusing around the garden. Having one at the furthest point from the tap makes watering quicker and easier. Water either later or earlier in the day so plants take up as much water as possible before it evaporates.
2 Grow plants from seed, there’ll be more choice of flowers and vegetables than being limited by what’s available in the shops. It reduces your carbon footprint, cutting out the transportation involved in getting food to shops.
3 Encourage birds into your garden by providing them with food, water and shelter, they’ll repay you by eating insect pests.
4 Go organic, take small steps towards this if you’re not there already [see 3 above], grow resistant varieties, space small plants so they’re less prone to disease, water effectively. It’s all aimed at having healthy plants that won’t be struck down by disease so easily, and who really wants to eat produce that’s been covered in chemicals.
5 Make leaf-mould, it takes a while to rot down, but you’ll have wonderful, crumbly compost instead of burning leaves or putting them in the bin.
6 Save seeds in late summer for growing your own plants next year.
7 Grow the right plants for your garden, list the type of plants that love the soil in your garden, the amount of light it gets, how much sun and shade there is, make a list of plants, they’ll flourish and won’t need replacing.
8 Make your own compost, you’ll be amazed how much this cuts down the amount you throw away, and it’s so good for your garden.
9 Mulch the soil by spreading a thick layer of home-made compost or leaf-mould on it, it keeps moisture in the soil for plants to use and drains excess soil away. A layer of mulch at least 10cm/4in thick will help to reduce some weeds too.
10 Make comfrey or nettle tea to feed the plants instead of buying chemical fertiliser.
The wood for my deck at Hampton Court came from The Brighton and Hove Wood Recycling Project, a marvellous set-up that sells all kinds of timber that would have gone to landfill. They now have many other outlets so have a look at their website here.
I still wear the jacket, it’s stood the test of time well …. unlike the shoes.
Happy gardening, Jill
all photos: Jill Anderson