Louise Tomlin suggests that by being eco-friendly and making changes in our everyday gardening, we can benefit people, animals and theplanet.

When Thought Leaders like Greta Thunberg or Sir David Attenborough urge everyone to take action on climate change, I hope we are listening. We have been witnessing extreme unseasonal temperatures, storms, gales and floods in recent years. The science is telling us this is the result of the high levels of carbon we are allowing into the environment.

If I’m honest, I am guilty of turning away from this as an issue during the pandemic. Things I had changed like banning damaging, unbiodegradable wipes from my home went out of the window as I, like many of us, reached for these packets of anti-bacterial saviours in an attemptto keep my immediate surroundings void-free.

Things are at least improving on that front, although it’s not over by any means, so I feel it’s important to try to do something to re-focuson the other gnarly issue by sharing some simple measures I’ve picked up, that if we adopt, can help us all release less carbon into the environment when we’re gardening.

Once I started researching I must admit to being overwhelmed, as I found so much I thought I needed to include and I just don’t have spacefor it all, so I’m going to carefully choose a few to tell you about thistime and hope to get to others at a later date.

Try buying less of everything like plants in plastic pots and the chemicals you usually associate with gardening too. If you need pots look at what you’ve got around your home/shed/recycling bins and improvise. I remember last year in the first lockdown I wrote about trying to grow my own veg and starting seeds off in all sorts of containers, well I’m still doing it and using the ones I managed to find.

On the chemicals – did you know you can make fertilizer from plants like comfrey or nettles? Many years ago a gardening friend of mine, who was into organic gardening at a time when it definitely wasn’t very common or fashionable, showed me how to soak nettles and comfrey in an old bucket of water. She let it soak until it was brown and stinky, and the plants had released their nutrients. Straining and bottling it made a great liquid feed. I’ve included a photo of comfrey here just in case you aren’t familiar with it. It’s everywhere, as are nettles, I’m presuming you know what they look like.

Buying plants from the garden centre used to be the norm for me, but I’ve found that it’s an activity that can be scaled down, which means a much more local approach and cutting down on the miles that plants will have travelled to be sold. I’ve given away masses of tomato plants this year, following a rookie error when sowing seeds from last year’s crop. I found this was way more successful than I anticipated and as a result half the street are now growing my tomato babies. This has encouraged others to share and I’ve had plenty of reciprocated bounty as other seedlings have to come to me. It’s a lovely way of building a community spirit and getting to know people too.

I’ve had a water butt for many years to help collect rainwater for watering my garden. Most of u  have water meters these days, so it makes good sense. I had no idea it can save so much water needlessly coming from your household supply. How does this help to lower carbon emissions though? Apparently, 0.5% of the UK’s emissions come from the treatment and distribution of our mains water. I also use a washing-up bowl in my sink and collect wastewater to use on my garden.

One thing I would suggest it’s ok to buy is a new slug deterrent I’ve discovered called Slug Stop by Growing Success, the non-toxic pellets work as a barrier. Please, never use poisonous pellets to kill off slugs, they are so dangerous and don’t just kill their target audience, they mean a painful death by secondary poisoning for any animals like hedgehogs and birds that eat slugs, not to mention killing your pets if they accidentally consume slug pellets.

By being more ‘green’ we can all help to create more wildlife-friendly environments and reduce the impact we have. If any of you are interested in finding out more, here are a couple of websites brimming with ideas: plantlife.org.uk and also rhs.org.uk

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