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Reducing waste in the garden

With the engaging response we received on our ‘Leave the Black and do Green’ last week,  I also wanted to share with you my thoughts on this Cyber Monday, about how we can use the circular economy for good in the garden and not spending (as much) money. As the weather turns and short, wet and cooler days close in on us, we also need to be mindful and ensure we don’t fall into a winter lull of sorts.

How to reduce, reuse, recycle in the garden

Share some Hardwood cuttings.
Take and share hardwood cuttings now. Hardwood cutting are taken in the dormant season (mid-autumn until late winter) and the ideal time is just after autumn or just before spring.  Easy plants to grow from cuttings are viburnum x bodnantense dawn and syringa vulgaris. Although this type of cutting may be slow to develop roots and shoots, it is usually successful and you can share your cuttings with family & friends.

Winter cuttings & pruning
Don’t be tempted to cut back your hydrangeas, wait until late January and preferably late February for this job. Enjoy the dried flowers for the winter months. Also don’t touch or trim lavender now even if you are not happy with it being out of shape. Winter cutting of lavender will almost guarantee it won’t survive the winter. Best time to trim lavender is at the start of the summer, late April early May and I prefer late July once it has finished flowering. This gives it time to put on a flush of growth before the autumn and winter. Rosemary is also the same as lavender.

Be careful not to trim spring flowering plants in the autumn or winter. Varieties such as lilac, viburnum, camellia and rhododendrons will not flower next spring if they get the tips cut off now. And as tempting as it may seem, the best time to prune fruit trees is in February. Check for any dead branches and these should be pruned as close to the trunk as possible.

Divide any herbaceous plants .
Make sure not to divide into too small of sections. Each section should be 3-6cm in diameter to ensure good establishment next year. Don’t forget to share some of these with friends and family for a gift that keeps on giving.

Feed the birds.
In winter the birds appreciate a little extra help with finding food! Fill feeders or hang suet blocks to help them get through. Birds eat bugs and feed on weed seeds during the growing season, so attracting then to your garden year round just makes sense. Try bird feeders as small gifts for friends that love gardening too, they’re easy to make, look attractive and its recycling again.

Check any trees that were planted in the last three years.
The strapping may need to be adjusted to give room for the trunk and stakes may need to be replaced if they are loose. Only take away posts and strapping in the spring when the storms are over. Check the tree for die back and trim appropriately to clean it out.

Clean and inspect garden tools.
Before putting your garden tools away for winter, make sure they’re clean. Remove rust before storing insures that your tools will be ready to go when you need them! You can also coat your tools with a light coating of vegetable oil to prevent them from rusting over winter, but take a good look at each piece as you clean it. Is it still in good shape, or does it need replaced before the spring?

Organise your bulbs.
Go through all your bulbs and figure out what you have enough of and what may not be viable and needs replacing. Knowing how to store bulbs for winter will ensure that these bulbs will be viable for planting in the spring. I don’t tend to have a lot of bulbs so my organising method is very simple, but many gardeners with bigger bulb collections recycle cardboard boxes, photo cases or old fashioned recipe boxes with great success.
Recycle and Repurpose.
Recycled doesn’t have to mean packing everything into a bin or bag and sending it off to the local charity. Recycling and repurposing, or up cycling, is about thinking differently. Reusing old containers as vases or plant pots or wooden boxes into your new herb garden.

Decide what you’ll be planting.
Deciding what to plant in your garden can be as simple as jotting down everything that was successful the last few years and decide which ones are worth your effort to grow again. Or you can spend time exploring new varieties and experiment with some new flowers or fruits. You’ll need to know what you want to grow though, before you can move on to the next winter gardening plan. Keep in mind seasonal rotation, plant spacing, succession planting and companion planting. Make a plan and play with your placement till you get it exactly how you want it and spend a few days picking out your plants for next year!
I now its the end of December but make a pledge for 2024.
I’m always trying to make sure that we garden with always an eye on the planet and we try to ensure everyone in the business thinks that way too, reducing the amount of water we use, always looking at how we can reduce chemical use, from cleaning the kitchen to weeding options.  This year we are making a pledge to recycle much more from our household waste, our old clothing to our green waste. Reducing our impact on the planet and also hopefully finding ways to save money too, if not for us then ways we can help community and charitable ventures.  What can you do this coming year?
That’s just a few ideas to save or do in the garden for the circular economy over the next month or so. We’ll have more in this series over the next couple of months, we hope you’ gain something from it .After that though, it’s time to to start planting and get the garden started again!
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