Gardening

What are you doing for 30 Days Wild?

What are you doing for 30 Days Wild? Not heard of it? It’s the Wildlife Trusts campaign to encourage people to do 30 days of Random Acts of Wildness during June to help the environment.

Schools, groups and individuals are urged to do something to encourage biodiversity – as wide a variety of nature as possible – to thrive. It is to help tackle the climate emergency and particularly pollinators at this time of year.

One idea behind the campaign is that, whatever you do, it is habit forming. The campaign encourages participants to continue to do something for longer than 30 days. Or to take notice of nature for longer than 30 days at least.

One year, I interpreted the campaign not as doing something daily, but letting the “wild things grow” as it were, in a dedicated area.

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Cooking up a treat with a bunch of beetroot leaves

An “early” harvest from the garden brings a lovely problem: what to do with those large beetroot leaves? It seems such a waste to discard them.

The urban jungle – or maybe just the jungle, given how they have grown in the garden – says they can be cooked. Ever since a neighbour brought his whopping baseball sized beetroots (I exaggerate, but only just) back from his allotment last year, I made a mental note to look up whether the flurry of greenery was edible. Consensus is yes, they can be used like chard – and they taste like spinach when cooked. But how?

For some reason, just a couple of beetroot (which have been big this year because of the month of May without rain) have produced enough greenery to look like flowers in a vase. Another use, in a heatwave, might seem to be as a fan. But they are not that sturdy.

Read More »Cooking up a treat with a bunch of beetroot leaves
Old chimney pots are earmarked as future planters

Old chimney pots to be recycled as planters

They have languished in a dark corner of the garden, next to a fence where not even weeds – sorry, unwanted vegetation – have the temerity to grow.

There has never been a temptation to take these two feet tall pieces of masonry to the recycling centre. It would seem such a waste.

Maybe the recent purchase of sweet potatoes offers the opportunity of an answer to this long-pondered mystery of how to re-purposing them as something useful.

The rim of one of them has long since broken off, but that shouldn’t matter for what I have in mind.

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Should you line food caddies with magazine envelopes?

An ever growing number of organisations are sending us their magazines in eco-friendly packaging: namely 100 per cent compostable bags.

They look like plastic, but they are not. One I have just received says it is made from potatoes.

While the much-trumpeted packaging offers advice on the limits of what you should do with it, such as put it in your waste food caddy but not in the plastic recycling or general bin, it doesn’t detail how long it will take to degrade in your garden compost facility.Read More »Should you line food caddies with magazine envelopes?

Dandelion root

Is everything you want to remove a ‘weed’?

“Is this a weed?” my father used to ask my mother when I was small, having already pulled up the apparently offending piece of organic matter from the ground.

Some of the time, my mother wanted it there and was annoyed. Mostly, however, she was just annoyed that he’d pulled it out first. If she had wanted it, it was too late now!

The ‘evil weed’ is a not-so-secret term for cannabis, perhaps a reference to the fact it is illegal and could have various affects on you. The urban dictionary might define the term as a physically weak person, used as an insult particularly among children, based on a perception of a plant that is stringy, small and useless.

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My sweet new babies have arrived – now what?

Experimenting in the garden is all part of the fun – and my new babies have arrived!

A few years ago I had a go at growing a peach tree, or maybe it was a nectarine, in a pot, then planted it when it seemed mature enough.

These were what I bought several relatives for Christmas and are little bullet-sized compact bundles of seeds which, when they sink in and mature, will provide an area of flowers which are lovely by bees, a garden’s favourite pollinators.

This year’s experiment will be sweet potatoes. My wife went on a diet to minimise carbohydrates, calories and starch, so switched from eating potatoes to sweet potatoes. I’m not going to show her that advice I found on the internet which says sweet potatoes are high in calories and starch. What does that sign say in the doctors’ surgery? “Your Google search is no replacement for my seven years at medical school.”

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National Gardening Week: Is gardening like parenting?

The thought occurs that gardening is much like parenting – and that perhaps I should quit before expanding on that notion!

The similarities are easy to see: gardeners and parents want to: nurture, encourage and watch as growth occurs; create an environment where that can happen; eradicate the bad stuff; and bring the fruits of their endeavours to maturity without too many major dramas!

However, while there are many people who can profess to be experts in gardening (which I don’t, it’s just a hobby), you can merely be experienced parents. There’s no such thing as an expert parent: it’s an imperfect exercise.

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Ditch the tea bag for fully blended compost

Every time I see that advert asking “Coffee in a bag? Why didn’t we think of this before?” I scream back at the television: “Because it can’t be good for the environment!”

The company responsible says on its website that it is using PLA (Polylactic acid) made from natural materials instead of plastics, which is becoming popular among brands and which scientists say biodegrades but still slowly.

Manufacturers have made huge strides in recent years – possibly decades – to make their packaging more environmentally friendly.

Read More »Ditch the tea bag for fully blended compost