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Planting for nature and the planet

While we are unable to get outside as much as we would like, the great thing about this year is that there are many other ways that we can learn about and connect with nature. One of these is the very many online meetings.

Being interested in everything, these kind of lectures are not a new thing, however because everyone is at home / facing travel restrictions, courses are opening up to a much wider audience.

Over the past 3 years I have become more interested in gardening. It's a lovely way to be outside, grow things that not only look nice but encourage wildlife as well as (not always successfully) growing food. I try to be aware of how to be more sustainable by installing a water butt to conserve water, composting and not using pesticides or insecticides.

Gardening can provide a diverse range of benefits such as:

  • Improving wellbeing

  • Enable us to take action

  • Reduce plastic

  • Reduce food miles

  • Empower ourselves by taking control

  • Connection to the natural world

  • Saves money

  • Satisfaction of plot to plate.

However, I have recently been volunteering at a local farm which employs no dig practices, however, it's not something I know much about. Therefore, when I saw that there was a webinar entitled How to be a Climate Change Savvy Gardener, I definitely wanted to find out more.

The presentation was hosted by he Centre for Alternative Technology which is an educational charity dedicated to researching and communicating positive solutions for environmental change based in West Wales.

Kim Stoddart is an organic gardener who has been writing in the national press and runs gardening courses and she believes that:

Nature holds a lot of the answers when it comes to climate change.

What I loved from the start of this talk was how simple the approach is. One of the key things which struck me was that we seem to be obsessed with the tradition of the Victorian garden where everything is perfectly laid out, free from weeds and stray leaves. The problem with this is that it in fact fights nature rather than helping and working with it.

So, what is the solution? A complete surprise to me was that to move forwards, we need to go back, way back to medieval times. Medieval peasant gardening used mixed gardening where they saved seeds and allowed plants to complete their natural cycle. This tends to be much easier and lower maintenance.

The simple act of doing this means that it encourages biodiversity in a much more natural way. As such, it also help greatly with with pest control by companion planting which offers symbiotic relationships.

Also remembering that Winter is a good time to plant. The plants tend to be more resilient plants. Examples of what can be grown are: rhubarb, asparagus, kales, horseradish, herbs, fruits, sorrel.

Slow it, Sink it, Spread it.

  • No dig

  • Raised beds

  • Perennial planting

  • Trees and shrubs

  • Longer grass

  • Gravel pathway

  • Ground cover

  • Important to remember that soil is a huge ecosystem in itself

  • Water collection

Remember that even if we only have a very small outdoor space, we can still plant for nature in containers and small spaces.

After listening to the webinar, I definitely feel inspired to redesign the garden and think about planting not just to make things look good but also, to encourage a wider range of organisms. I love the simplicity of the ideas - and it's organic.

As such, I purchased the book to get further inspiration and I very much look forward to planning this!

The Climate Change Garden by Sally Morgan & Kim Stoddart is out now and can be purchased directly from CAT at their online store.

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