Greener Gardening

5th March 2020

Greener Gardening

Greener Gardening

by Karen Langridge

I am ever the optimist. With all the rain that has dumped on us over the last few months, I am sure that the flowers are more abundant and colourful this year than previous years. The daffodils are raising their nodding heads everywhere around the Village.

Eynsford is such a beautiful village and it's great to be able to contribute to the wonderful look and feel of the village. The first of March brought a day free from rain; there were clear skies and a bit of warmth in the sunshine. With the better weather and longer days my mind turns to our garden. Here are a few ideas on how you can make your own garden 'greener'.

Grow your own

Our seed potatoes are already chitting on the windowsill ready to be planted out in our allotment in mid-March and the first seeds have germinated (sweet peas, onion, leeks, and chillies). We try to be as 'green' as possible with our gardening. Growing our own vegetables, in raised beds in the back garden and at the allotment is hard work, but you cannot beat the satisfaction of harvesting your own crops. We usually try growing a new vegetable each year and last year we tried Mexican Oregano, Tomatillos and Okra.

Composting

Compost bins provide a simple pleasure in my life. We currently have five! Compost bins are a simple and natural way of getting rid of waste material from the kitchen and garden. With a correct mix of greenery (grass, plant foliage) and 'browns' (leaves, newspaper), a little turning to aerate the mixture and a few industrious worms, a fine compost mix is formed after about a year. It is magic! This can be returned to the garden and, hey ho, happy plants. Some worry that compost bins attract rats. I have never seen rats around the compost heap, although I did find a nest of mice keeping warm in there one year. Compost bins can be built sustainably using crates and chicken-wire.

Encourage creatures

There are ways to encourage creatures into your garden by providing food, water and shelter. Birds love the food provided by bird feeders and I love to see them 'play' in the bird bath. A natural pond is the best thing for attracting all sorts of creatures. The pond can be really small (we have a Belfast sink sunk into the ground filled with water). Creatures are attracted to some types of flowering plants more than others. Single flowers are better than double flowers as the insects find it easier to reach the nectar. Winter flowering plants such as honeysuckle (Lonicera x purpusii "Winter Beauty") and pyracanthus (Pyracanthus coccinea "Red Column") are good for birds and insects as they provide nectar and berries throughout winter.

Wild Garden

Leaving parts of the garden a little neglected will be beneficial to creatures. Don't rush to tidy the garden borders and shrubs after winter as shelter can be provided for insects. I often leave piles of leaves so animals can hide, rest or hibernate, and some fallen apples on the ground for creatures to eat. Last year I left our small front lawn un-mowed for the summer to benefit creatures but also to see if any orchids might appear (as they are appearing in a number of nearby front gardens in St Martins Drive and Pollyhaugh). Unfortunately no orchids appeared in our garden last year, but maybe this year.....

The Royal Horticultural Society provides more information about the benefits of 'greening your garden' on their webpage: https://www.rhs.org.uk/get-involved/greening-grea...

Author: Holly Ivaldi

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