Keep plastics and damaging chemicals out of your garden
Try and keep single-use plastics, peat based products and artificial chemical fertilisers out of your garden. There are plenty of alternatives!
- Refuse chemical fertilisers and make your own compost and mulch, and garden in harmony with the seasons.
- Refuse chemical non-natural pesticides. There are plenty of alternatives, such as nematodes for slugs and weevils, grease bands for fruit trees, rubber collars for strawberries, companion planting, and even live insects such as ladybirds to eat aphids.
- Refuse plastic plant pots wherever possible, especially the black ones. There are plenty of alternative fibre, ViPot (rice hulls) and bamboo pots available now. Coir is biodegradable, but has a high carbon footprint. If you’re sowing from seed, why not make your own out of cardboard cut in a cross and then tie the sides together in a square with twine?
- Growing from seed or buying bare-root shrubs and trees is the best way of avoiding plastic pots. Buy local where possible.
- Refuse feed and treatment bottles. You can make your own liquid feeds from manure, kitchen veg scraps, seaweed, comfrey and garden weeds, and much more. If you have to buy, make sure it’s in a cardboard box.
- Bulky buys in large plastic bags should be avoided by making your own mulch or compost or getting a lorryload, but you can recycle some bags, or re-use them for rubbish or as growing bags if you wash them first.
- A lot of plastic sheeting is used for protection and insulation. Try using cardboard or straw or sheep’s wool instead.
Want to know more? The RHS has a great page on plastic-free gardening.
- Home-grown Fruit, salad, herbs and vegetables reduce food miles and your carbon footprint
- Grow seasonally and for the local soils
- Grow from seed in your own second hand or non plastic pots
- Even with a small space, grow plants up a wall, or in containers, or in a shelved system
- Spread out your planning season by planting across a number of days or weeks. Or plant perennials and pick the tips , or let them self-seed.
- Plant in layers, such as herbs under tomatoes, to make the most of your space
- Join your local gardening club for seed swaps and local advice
- Build a wormery to recycle garden waste
- Grow things that you can use: as pot pourri, pickles, jams, even back scratchers.
- You should compost as much of your garden and kitchen waste as possible. If you need to use a local recycling scheme, make sure you put garden waste into your council kerbside green garden bin or take it to your local recycling centre where it will be turned into compost. There are plenty of excellent sites on composting, including our own page and you can use old pallets or wood crates to start.
- Don’t throw it away! Old plastic can be used for polytunnels, and cardboard makes an excellent weed suppressant.
- Old pallets, wheelbarrows, wine crates, anything that can hold soil, can make for a layered garden
- Re-use any black plastic that you’ve got, but do wash it thoroughly first.
- Grow micro greens in plastic bottles, egg trays, eggshells, the list is endless.
- Plant for bees, butterflies and wildlife
- Don’t mow your lawn! Many weeds such as dandelions provide valuable nectar rich food for insects.
- Provide wildlife cover and habitats
- Make a pond! Event a small recycled container can be valuable for biodiversity.
- Grow for a long season: plant pollinators for early Spring, and berries for Autumn food.
- Upcycle plastic containers as bird feeders, water baths, seed trays and much more
- provide shelter and nesting sites for birds, bees and other pollinators as well as hedgehogs. And create wildlife corridors between gardens by using steps or leaving areas of cover or wildness.
The RHS has a great site on wildlife gardening.
Use your resources well
- Plant native, local species in the right location
- Add organic matter such as home-made compost to help the soil hold water and add nutrition
- Harvest rainwater with water butts or metal buckets
- Only water when necessary and in the early morning or evening
- Select species that can tolerate dry spells
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn as a mulch
- Use a rake or a lawnmower to collect and shred leaves and keep them in recycled bags to rot down as mulch. Then spread it on your beds to reduce water loss.