August’s National Allotment Week focussed on how allotments could contribute to a sustainable future. Here, we offer five ways you can save precious natural rescources on your plot
Drier springs and hotter summers have meant it’s even more important to find a more sustainable way to preserve water. It’s estimated the average person in the UK uses 150 litres of water every day – and that doesn’t include gardening! So, prepare ahead by digging in bulky compost such as SylvaGrow Farmyard or mulching with SylvaBark. This will not only inject nutrients into the soil but keep it moist for longer.
A good drench once or twice a week, directly at the roots, is better than ‘little and often’. This can encourages plant roots to grow near the surface. Water late evening or early morning so there’s less chance of evaporation. And when rain is forecast, grab every drop. Harvesting rainwater is a big tick for sustainability. Fix water butts to down pipes on sheds and greenhouses.
Recyle and reuse
There’s lots of sustainable ways we can help reduce our plastic usage in the garden. Washing and reusing plastic trays and pots is a great way to start. And lots of household items can be repurposed for labels or containers. Check out our tips for reusing old compost bags on Facebook.
We’re committed to reducing our plastic usage, so we’ve also come up with the Melcourt Bag for Life. This can be filled with our compost and re-used repeatedly. Available at selected garden centres, the bags only need to be used twice before less plastic (by weight) has been used compared to normal single-use bags. Check availability with your local garden centre.
Turning waste and kitchen scraps into free compost feels like a gift. Whether you choose a heap, a bin, or a box, it’s a really easy thing to do. But it does require a little patience. Like a good coffee everyone has his or her favourite blend. For the perfect garden brew, go for a 50 per cent carbon (browns). These are items such as shredded paper and cardboard. And 50 per cent nitrogen-rich greens, such as kitchen scraps and plant debris.
Black plastic bins tend to compost faster because they heat up more quickly. Worms also prefer warm (but not hot) conditions. Pop the bin directly onto the soil so the beneficial microbes and worms can get in. Once the compost at the base of your bin turns dark and crumbly (around 12 months) you can begin to use it. Lavish as mulch to stop water evaporating, prevent soil erosion, suppress weeds and adds nutrients. Mix your homemade compost with specialist peat free mixes such as SylvaGrow Multipurpose and you can create your own bespoke potting mixes and mulches, perfected to your individual growing conditions.
Grow peat free
Not all of us have the space for a compost heap or wormery. But we can all be more ethical and sustainable about the compost we buy. Avoiding peat-based compost helps preserve precious peatlands. These natural habitats play an essential role in mitigating against the effects of climate change, including reducing flooding and sequestering vast amounts of carbon.
All of our products are 100-per-cent peat-free, including our 11 SylvaGrow composts and soil conditioners. This specialist compost range is loved by professional growers and gardeners alike – and Royal Horticultural Society endorsed. All are manufactured from British and European forest industry co-products. New sustainable raw material sources are systematically researched, trialled and tested all the time using our in-house research and development facilities. Click here for our full range.
There’s no better way to create a sustainable and productive allotment or garden, than by encouraging biodiversity. Attracting wildlife with wildflowers, a water source and hibernation habitats – will help insects pollinate your crops and pick off predators. An easy win is a bug hotel with a combination of rocks, twigs, bamboo and pinecones. Let a patch of grass grow wild, or grow native wildflowers such as red campion, scabious, cornflower, and corncockle among your crops. A half barrel pond with stepping-stones for amphibians and hedgehogs, provides all sorts of creatures with a place to cool off and drink.