It may not feel like it at the moment, but it is May, which means PEAK GARDEN TIME! The trees are coming into bloom, all the plants are growing, the wisteria is out…. And once the sun comes out it is going to be sweeeeet! So, whether you’re a frequent gardening fiend or yet to dabble in the arena of soil and compost, we at curious.earth are here to help!
Dabbling in a little bit of planting fun not only helps to improve our local environment, it has also been evidenced to have a real positive impact on our own health and wellbeing, and was highlighted as a key activity during lockdown to manage feelings of anxiety, loneliness, depression during what has been a tumultuous year! PS – Check out our recent article for further details about eco-therapy…..
Following on from our activity on social media, we’ve collated a list of things that you can do to garden both for your own benefit, and the benefit of nature and the environment. Read on for some useful pointers to build an enviro-friendly garden/green space in your home or your local place. Feel free to share other tips, comments and ideas either as comments on this page or via social media → let’s make gardening really green!
- Compost – for peat’s sake! Yep we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, peat environments are precious and a vital carbon store and important ecosystem. A full ban will be coming into place in 2024, but until then, check the label and make sure you buy peat-free compost to help preserve reserves! If you have the space you can also make your own compost from waste food and garden cuttings.
- The tools – lend them rather than buying everything for a limited foray with the green stuff. Either check out lending sites, or befriend that neighbour who is regularly out with their spade and trowel. As well as saving you money, it makes effective use of existing resources – double win! Popular lending sites and platforms include Library of Things, LendandTend and FatLlama (and read our article all about FatLlama for more information on how rental systems work!)
- No garden? No issue… – community gardens and allotments are springing up (excuse the pun) all over the country, partly in response to the pandemic. Drop in and see if they need any help, many offer volunteering opportunities. Benefits include new friends, new knowledge, satisfaction and (sometimes) free veg and plant cuttings! Checkout Farm Garden here to locate your nearest one!
- Still no green space? Rally the locals, speak to your council, is there an area of disused /underused land that could be turned into something that offers a real benefit to the community and improves the local environment? Many councils are really keen to support these sorts of initiatives at the moment as it fits well with their green ambitions and community resilience/recovery post-pandemic so it’s definitely worth a try! There is probably a group already doing this, check out your local news channels and see if you can support their work!
- Go au natural – there are multiple natural fertilizers and pest-controls that can be used rather than harsh chemicals that ensure your plants flourish. Top tips include:
- Used coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peel and seaweed all make excellent fertilisers. Allow them to compost then spread on your patch for a natural nutrient boost.
- If you are to buy fertilizer, make sure it is organic!
- Peeing as a fertilizer?!? Yes you heard me right – check out this, if you do try, please let us know your levels of success on our Insta!
- Think about encouraging animals that might feed on pests rather than looking to obliterate them. For example, hedgehogs will eat slugs, wasps eat certain caterpillars….
- This article lists out some great tips for getting rid of the common pests you may encounter! Mild soapy water and copper collars anyone…?
- Grow heritage – we’ve written about this topic before, but the lack of diversity within our plant life is a real problem when thinking about the long-term resilience of our food chain and wider environment! Therefore, (when you can) buy heirloom varieties of fruit and veg when growing your own – as well as these wider benefits, they also tend to taste better! Check out these sites for further information and resources:
- Potting with a conscience – general kitchen cardboard and toilet rolls make perfect pots for seedlings. You can also fashion newspaper into little pots for seedlings. If you do use plastic pots, recycle them and use them again. If you do want to buy new, buy recycled wood/plastic planters sourced from more environmentally friendly materials.
- All the other furniture – of course we also may want to sit out and enjoy our green spaces. Source pre-owned garden furniture where possible, make your own, or look to buy furniture made from recycled/responsibly sourced materials.
- Encourage wildlife and biodiversity – grow plants and garden to create a bee-friendly, butterfly-friendly, frog and toad-friendly, hedgehog friendly paradise! Encourage animals and insects that were once common within the UK and give them homes and habitats to thrive. This can be anything from planting wildflower seeds all the way through to building a wildlife corridor between yours and your neighbours’ gardens for hedgehogs and other critters.
- Let it go wild – gardens don’t need to be perfect, in fact, some of the best gardens are where gardeners work with the natural environment and encourage nature to grow as it pleases. It makes your life easier as well as benefiting nature. So if your green patch really wants to be a bog, let it be a great bog!
- Have a go at some green-fingered fun! Whatever scale, it will deliver personal, community and wider environmental benefits, and is a lot of fun!