Browsed by
Category: Environment & Green Gardening

Tips for ecologically friendly gardeners and gardens that green and protect the environment.

Lush Time in the Garden

Lush Time in the Garden

Where has all the rain gone? In winter there were floods aplenty so I was predicting water rationing by summer. Now it is mid May and the ground is parched and rock hard.

I was struggling to plant my dahlias when I heard my neighbor having even more trouble getting his spade in deep enough. I said I was worried about my next water bill and low and behold there it was on the doormat by lunch time.

Lush is as Lush Does

  1. To me green is the lush colour for all seasons. Other colours supplement or provide great highlights but the framework is green.
  2. Evergreens are therefore a mainstay of my garden particularly the 50 plus evergreen conifers that look lush through the year.
  3. It seems sad to eulogise dying foliage but this year the daffodils and blubells have clung on to the strappy leaves and provided some ground cover until I can get some annuals ready.
  4. The water table and morning dew has been enough to keep the grass green and I am resisting the temptation to cut too close.
  5. Two water barrels are not enough to allow me to water lavishly and 2 outdoor taps are a temptation. I and the garden will survive the rest of the year even though I predict summer floods.
Big Up Your Garden Compost

Big Up Your Garden Compost


Goodnews, I have 3 good sized compost bins. The bad news is I am filling them very quickly which if they rot down soon enough will become more good news. The black bin heats up quicker but contains less material and is hardest to get at to turn the waste so I guess that is a scoring draw (using football pools terms).

New Discoveries

  1. I should have known all along that hay rots into a soggy lump and isn’t great for garden compost making. It probably contains far more seeds that I or the garden can cope with.
  2. I should have known all along that forgotten tools may turn up in heaps as they do not rot but rust even my spare pair of Felcos had some rust.
  3. I should have known all along that rats like a warm friendly space to live and breed. A neighbor has had to call out the pest control twice during the lock down and I’ve discovered an unusual depression and hole in one of my heaps. I hope my early action will work.
  4. I should have known all along that I would get better compost if I sieve out the tougher bits.  A full bin has realised 50% fine sieved parts with the rest going back to restart the new bin. I also found fruit labels and sundry bits of plastic.

Rotten Rotters Musings of a Composter

Rotten Rotters Musings of a Composter

I guess I am lucky to have 3 compost heaps and have had the ‘fun’ of emptying one over the last 3 days.  It would probably have been better compost if it had been left a few more months but the other 2 were full or filling up rapidly. I wanted to trench out the bean and sweet pea ground both of which should benefit from the moist compost at their roots. Another reason for action was created by corona virus and the cessation of garden refuse collections and closure of local refuse tips by our MDC.

So what of rotten rotters or poor composters that I unearthed this morning.

Inert Items

  1. Not surprisingly plastics did badly, as, despite my efforts a clothes peg, several plant labels from garden centers and my own written identifiers had got into the bin. Other plastics including starch magazine wrappers, and stickers from exotic fruit that were discovered not yet if ever broken down.
  2. Every year I find at least one missing tool that I had probably spent an age looking for. Last year it was a precious Falco secateur that turned up with a bit of damage the month after I had bought a new one.
  3. The surprise of the day was 3 spectacle lenses and one arm. It beggars belief but perhaps I couldn’t see them when they fell in to the compostable clippings.
  4. The bin I emptied must have stood on soil where an old bird feeder had existed. The metal spike stabliser was now dug out with the compost. There was no more metal this time.

Natural Material

  1. It may be due to my impatience but Avocados give me the pip or should that be the nut. Whatever you call it the kernal takes more than a year before it cleaves into 2 unrotted hard pieces. The skin also fails to rot as quickly as all my other kitchen waste. They were nearly ready to go this time so I let them be.
  2. Moss lies dormant and will not rot. Short of burying it I must be dissuaded from putting the lawn grass mossy rakings from a wet winter in the now empty bin.
  3. I dug up an old tree stump but that won’t rot down in my lifetime so I may invert it and make a stumpery. Other thick woody lumps are not destined for my compost heaps.

Home made compost sieve to remove rotten rotters

Strulch does well in Pots

Strulch does well in Pots

Widgeon

Strulch is an organic mulch made from straw with embedded minerals. I made use of a lot of Strulch this spring and it has done a good job in several ways most visibly on the plants grown in pots.

Pot Plants With Strulch

  • Strulch mulch reduces weed growth by up to 95% but as you see a couple of weeds poked through. However, they were easy to hand weed the recalcitrants.
  • In the hot dry spring the pots needed a lot of watering but the mulch  helped retain moisture around plants.
  • Enriching the soil and its structure as it slowly decomposes is not critical to pot plants but there are some benefits. I would have added some straw to my homemade compost if it was available.
  • Even with my thin layer it lasts up to two years saving water and fertiliser but next year I will make the layer a bit thicker.
  • As claimed there was no sign of Slugs and Snails so I will try to use it on my dwarf hostas next spring.
  • The light brown appearance was aesthetically pleasing and seemed neat and tidy.
Woody Prunings and Compost

Woody Prunings and Compost


I have 3 good sized compost bins and the Metro district council supplies and takes away a brown bin  each month (for an annual fee). However that is still not enough at this time of year and I can fill the car boot many times over to take thick hedge prunings and woody bits to the local recycling center.

I need one of those – a big rolling compost smasher. It is used to tamp down the tipped compost so we can tip more and the trailer can carry larger loads to the ultimate council compost site.

Other Woody Composting

  • In the past I have had a shredder that was great when it didn’t get clogged up. Sadly it rusted away and I couldn’t foil to do all the extra shredding hence the trips to the tips.
  • In my enthusiastic days I spent many happy hours cutting twigs and prunings into small pieces to encourage early rotting down.
  • Oft times I had a bonfire but then moved on to a dustbin with chimney that is useful for collecting those annoying bits that I want to burn.
  • I had a special 2 year compost bin which reduced volume considerably but the woody bits lingered longer. It is now one of my 3 bins.
  • Garotta compost maker is not man enough for woody items even though I have tried more in hope than expectation.
  • I have never tried guerilla composting ( called fly tipping) but I often see the result of other people trying this antisocial method of eliminating their compostibles.
August Garden Needs More Colour Less Green

August Garden Needs More Colour Less Green


Shrubs rule the roost in August and apart from some Hebe there is not much other than green and a bit of leaf colour. Roll on the second flush of roses.

Next year I will think about more annuals and a better range of perennials with August in mind.

There is nothing wrong with green, it is what Chlorophyll is all about.

It is no surprise that many colours related to green have connections with natural items: –

Lawn green, sap green, chartreuse, sage, lime, olive, moss, mint, emerald, viridian, virdigris, avocado and British racing green.

Not real greens :-

Envy green, Lorne Green, Hughie Green, Ever Green, Green Gills, Thumb or finger green (enough ed.)

 

 

Successful Upgrade to My Compost Bins

Successful Upgrade to My Compost Bins

You can see photographs of my former compost bins in an  old 2014 post

I just updated the introduction as follows ‘5 years ago our council  provided a brown bin for garden waste. Shortly after they introduced a charge to have the bin emptied.  Larger branches, gnarled roots and diseased wood  now goes in this bin’.

Improved Bins for Better Compost

  • Keeping the heat of decomposition within the pile speeds up my composting.
  • A large bin helps me keep the garden tidier.
  • I am encouraged to make more compost and tip far less.
  • Green household waste also goes in the new bins.
  • The bins content tends to get a bit dry despite the rain drops you see. So I add water and comfrey leaves/juice.
  • The lower openings intended for shoveling out the compost tend to get a bit clogged and thus I empty by opening the whole side.
  • The black bin is smaller and was bought for slow to rot rubbish and composting/rotting down leaves. This years luxuriant growth has taken over and the more I spread compost the more compost I generate (Thanks Les Barker)

Insect Heaven for Your Garden

Insect Heaven for Your Garden

Virtually no flies on your car windscreen, sterile fields with no hedgerows and a multi-million pound insecticide industry not much heaven for insects. The hope for bugs, flies and little creatures may rest in your garden.

We hear about the need to protect bees due to there essential role in pollination. The contribution plus the complexity and interdependence of all creatures is not fully understood. We should all take care not to cause damage with our ecological footprint.

Insect house

Options For Helping Nature

  • Gardens need insects and bugs so why not treat them to a snug insect house.
  • You can build a multipurpose house from wood, stones and old pipes similar to the one above. Fill gaps with twigs, straw and rotting wood which will provide some food. The insects will make a home in the cracks and crevices that provide winter shelter.
  • A pile of old logs in a quite part of the garden can provide a haven for fungus and beetles.
  • Try growing butterfly friendly nettles and other plants that can act as breeding grounds.
  • Do not be too keen to clean and tidy up – tolerate a bit of leaf litter.
  • The charity Buglife has a guide that shows which plants help which insects and how to grow a mini meadow.
  • Insects around the world are facing an apocalypse as a result of toxins we humans put into the environmentso think about the effect you are going to have and spare a thought for bugs.

Book CoverBee nesting boxes will cater for bees and ladybirds.
Place on a south facing wall for optimum sunlight to help bees and for ladybirds place the nester in a sheltered area near tree branches and vegetation such as nettles.

Gardening as A Stress Buster

Gardening as A Stress Buster

Gardening is good for you not just physically but mentally and emotionally acting as a stress buster and promoting optimistic activity.

Book Cover

Meditation

  • A garden can and should be an oasis of calm so a specific quiet area is worth creating.
  • Make paths long and curving  to extend the journey through the garden. If paths are  narrow you will need to concentrate on where you put your feet and hopefully forget your problems.
  • A solitary seat placed with a calm view can help your contemplation.
  • Water helps with it’s light reflective nature and the gentle sound of moving water can be soothing and calming.

Colour

  • Green is a natural neutral colour often found in Hospitals for its therapeutic effects. It is not hard to combine  foliage like Bamboos, Ferns and Mahonia for shape, texture and the green colours.
  • Red is the most stimulating colour and can increase your heart rate and stimulate your appetite.
  • Blue has the opposite effect generating calm and lowering blood pressure.
  • The colour effect can be enhanced by including a small quantity of the complementary colour orange with blue, green with red.

Aromatherapy

  • Stimulating all the senses means you need some good scent. Lavender is calming and not stressful to grow.
  • Herbs like Basil, Rosemary, Mint and Thyme can have a stimulating effect.
  • Relaxing or balancing aroma comes from Camomile, Clary Sage or Marjoram.
  • There is an added bonus from herbs as they can have culinary and medicinal purposes in addition to the scent.
  • Floral scents are a matter of taste but the power of  Lilies, Phlox, Hyacinths and Roses can sweep away all my moody thoughts.

Physical Therapy

  • It may be a cliche to say ‘exercise is the best therapy’ but it may be a cliche because it is true.
  • 10 minutes in the garden can lead to hours disappearing as you find you are drawn to more garden jobs  because you can always make a further impact.
  • Vigorous digging can be as  therapeutic as along walk or run and your garden is improving at the same timedue to your activity.
  • Grass cutting and lawn edge trimming seems to work well for my wife (I am happy to let her do this job as my therapy).
  • My physical therapy is standing over the compost heap chopping down stems and twigs so they rot quicker and more comprehensively.

‘The Healing Garden a Practical Guide’ from Amazon

Allotments Replaced by Trees

Allotments Replaced by Trees

 

allotments

We used to have allotments in our village until the blight. That was not a gardening blight or a problem growing anything but a planners and local politicians blight.

A large green open space surrounding an old hospital ‘High Royds’ was too good an opportunity for power broking and developers profits so the old hospital and the village allotments all had to go. I blame ‘careless of the community’.

Now the ‘new’ village is built and called Chevin Park (not High Royds because the hospital was a former lunatic asylum. Other name changes such as Windscale to Sellafield also springs to mind.)    Many properties are empty partly due to the property recession but also due to the paltry size of the gardens and lack of allotments that could so easily have been restored.

What has replaced our allotments? As you can see a veritable forest of plastic tubes protecting newly planted trees and the flimsiest stakes you could imagine after 3 foot canes. As I said earlier this week this is an updated post for National Tree Week 2018. The plastic tubes are now litter around some decent young trees.

Tips for Planting Trees

  • Dig a good sized hole and incorporate some slow release fertilizer like bone meal. The tree should be there for a long time.
  • Spread the roots of a bare rooted tree or tweak the edges of a container grown tree to give roots the encouragement to spread. Trim off any broken roots.
  • Plant at the same depth to which the tree has been grown.  There is usually a soil mark on bare trees to help. Do not bury any graft.
  • Drive the stake into the bottom of the planting hole before planting the tree and try to ensure that 2/3rds of the stake is underground when the soil is returned to the hole.

    Read More Read More