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You may have given up booze or turned vegan for the New Year – but with climate change and sustainability in the spotlight, perhaps it’s time to turn over a new leaf with some eco-friendly gardening resolutions too?
Thankfully, there are plenty of easy ways to plant the seeds of sustainability through next year and beyond.
Squire’s Garden Centres have just launched its ‘Sustainability Champions’ programme, in which team members have been tasked with identifying solutions to help Squire’s become a more sustainable business. Sarah Squire (pictured right), the brand’s chair, suggests the following ideas…
1. Buy British plants
This supports local nurseries and means customers get the freshest possible plants, which haven’t travelled far from nursery to garden centre.
2. Use peat-free compost
Squire’s own brand compost will be 100% peat-free from Easter 2022. If you have the space, make your own compost.
Putting a layer of mulch over your soil can help it to retain moisture and to suppress weeds.
4. Water wisely
Add a water butt to your garden to collect and reuse water.
5. Encourage wildlife into your garden
Plant flowers that are good for pollinators, provide shelter like a bug hotel or nest box, add water (a pond, bird bath or even a small bowl of water helps) and feed the birds.
6. Plant a tree
As well as being beautiful and giving structure to a garden, trees are a fantastic habitat and food source for wildlife, and of course a source of carbon capture.
Try planting a gorgeous flowering cherry in your garden or, space permitting, larger trees such as birch, magnolia or hornbeam. On a balcony or terrace, you may have space for a small acer in a pot.
7. Grow your own
Growing your own fruit and veg is so satisfying. It may take a bit of time but you will be well rewarded with delicious, fresh, seasonal produce. Much cheaper than going to the supermarket and it reduces your environmental impact too.
8. Shop locally
Support local shops and garden centres and your local community will benefit too.
Here’s what the experts are doing:
Gardening experts share their own New Year’s resolutions for 2022…
Arit Anderson, Gardeners’ World presenter and garden designer (diamond-hill.co.uk) says:
“In 2022 my garden will be in need of a new patio layout, and although it would be lovely to have new Lakeland or York stone, I’m really happy that I am going to be using reclaimed pavers that potentially could otherwise have gone to landfill.
“My existing old cast stone pavers will be either crushed and used in the garden as hardcore, or put on Facebook marketplace for collection to use under sheds. The coming year is about recycling as much as possible.”
Former Blue Peter gardener Chris Collins, head of organic horticulture at Garden Organic (gardenorganic.org.uk) says:
“One of the most significant outcomes for horticulture from the pandemic is the emergence of many new gardeners who have taken up this practice while in lockdown. It’s now down to us seasoned gardeners to make sure we keep these new recruits and I plan next year, through workshops and talks in communities, schools and workplaces, to reach as many of these new recruits as possible.
“My aim will be to teach them the skills that will help them to have a lifetime of gardening, growing food, following organic principles and methods and helping them to maintain a sustainable environment.”
Charles Dowding (charlesdowding.co.uk), ‘no-dig’ gardening expert and author of Skills For Gardening (Chelsea Green, out in January) says:
“[I want to ditch] the plastics habit – I wish to discover alternatives to fleece, made of polypropylene, although we do use it several times. I was sent some wool fleece to try but it is heavy, expensive and sheds wool!
“I want to find more combinations of interplanting. Already we are finding several, which work really well. I also want to make better compost, probably with more wood content for improved structure and air content.”
Claire Austin, owner of Claire Austin Hardy Plants (claireaustin-hardyplants.co.uk) says:
“I’ve always gardened in an eco-conscious way, it’s nothing new. Gardeners have done it for centuries. Part of the trick lies in choosing plants that work for your garden. I can’t be doing with plants that need fuss and cosseting – I like growing perennial varieties that will thrive simply by being planted in the right conditions. I leave the stems to dry out over winter to support wildlife and then simply strim them back in around March to encourage the fresh growth.
“Peat-free compost is a no brainer – I’ve been using peat-free compost in my garden and on the nursery for over a decade and I have always had great results.”
Green campaigner and former Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle, author of Green Living Made Easy (One Boat, out in March 2022) says:
“The climate, our precious earth and living a sustainable life around the home and in the garden has never been more important. My resolution will focus on the necessity to continue to turn away from proprietary toxic weed killers, path clearing and patio cleaning products.
“Did you know that boiling water and a tiny sprinkle of table salt will control the most difficult weeds that appear in cracks and pathways, and the treatment will last for more than a season? Just a simple, cheap, eco-friendly and effective switch.
“In addition, while I continue to use the plastic pots and trays that I have, I will not buy more and will instead invest in sustainable containers that are either compostable or made from natural materials.”
Artisan flower grower Meg Edmonds, co-chair of Flowers from the Farm (flowersfromthefarm.co.uk) says:
“Buying local is one of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. When you seek out your local farmer-florist for flowers for a bouquet or a celebration, you are actively choosing to buy beautiful flowers which have a fraction of the carbon footprint of hothoused imported blooms, which may have been flown in from as far away as Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador and Ethiopia.
“Another of my New Year’s resolutions will be to take even further steps to protect and build the health of my soil. In recent years we have really focused on building the organic matter in our fields by applying mulches and covering any open ground in-between crops. This is an excellent way to control weeds, retain soil moisture and build biodiversity.”
Photo credit: Squire’s Garden Centres/PA.
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