We are well into Summer, and so far, we have enjoyed beautiful, sunny weather. Gardens are flourishing, and I hope you are taking the opportunity to get out into the great outdoors whenever possible, soaking in the greenery, sunshine and the fresh air.
As a nation we are becoming more aware of the size of our eco-footprint, and as a result we are becoming more hands-on in our gardens. A super simple way of getting started is by creating a compost heap. There is ample opportunity for organic materials to be collected from your garden year-round – in summer, grass clippings will form the bulk of the compost heap and, in autumn, fallen leaves. For the most effective compost heap you need a combination of air and water, so a mixture of wet green waste and dry leaves is ideal. If you are using weeds in your compost heap, make sure to get rid of the seeds, or else these will spread into the soil when you lay your compost!
For smaller gardens, hanging baskets are the perfect way to maximise the space. These can be planted for the seasons, with plants like fuchsia, geraniums, petunia and salvia for summer baskets and crocus, carex, violas and buxus in the winter. If you want to live the ‘pot to plate’ lifestyle, you can grow strawberries in hanging baskets. Not only is this visually quite pleasing, by planting strawberries in hanging baskets it means they are resistant to diseases in the soil and certain insect infestations. The same can be done with cherry tomatoes – delicious!
Water makes our gardens flourish and when it rains we have it in abundance. A water butt is another easy garden installation and even the driest parts of Britain can provide up to 24,000 litres of water each year in rainwater. This is not only good for the environment but great for your bank account – use the rainwater to nourish your garden and save money on your water bill! Another great tip when it comes to water is to reuse old water on your garden. A modicum of common sense is required in this – if the water contains disinfectant or bleach it won’t be suitable, however most of the time water can be collected from baths, showers and sinks and reused in the garden safely.
When it comes to reducing waste and our carbon footprint, the most effective way of doing this is by growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs. This may take a little more time and effort, but the results are well worth it. You can also repurpose and reuse lots of household items to use in the garden. Try making a watering can from a plastic bottle – simply make a few holes in the lid, fill with water, and pour!
Finally, the garden may make us healthier, both physically and mentally. Spending time in green spaces has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Fresh air and exercise is one way it makes us healthier, but also seeing results in our gardens can give us a sense of purpose and achievement as well as allowing us to flex our creative muscles. Gardening isn’t just a lone activity either, getting the family involved in growing plants from seed can be exciting and educational. So, what are you waiting for?
JASON IS A PROFESSIONAL GARDENER AND LANDSCAPER, AND OWNER OF JHPS-GARDENS LTD.
HE REGULARLY WRITES A PIECE FOR OUR WEBSITE, PLUS THE SENTINEL NEWSPAPER,
AND IS A GO TO EXPERT ON BBC RADIO STOKE’S GARDENING PROGRAMME.