Why I wouldn’t swap my garden for anything

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Paul’s Himalayan Musk is my favourite rambling rose, beautiful clusters of white and pink roses with a heady scent.

I am amazed by the array of wonderful plants at our disposal for creating our living masterpieces

I finally have a garden big enough to indulge whatever gardening whim blows my way and I really do appreciate how lucky I am.  Many gardeners have a limited space and whilst we all love looking at gardening programs, magazines, visiting wonderful gardens and garden centres many people have to think about where they can find the space to put this new ‘must-have’ plant.  I have a friend here in Germany who has a wonderful garden but of a limited size, when she discovers something she likes she just buys it and either digs up some more lawn to accommodate it or removes some other plant specimen. Some people might think that she is a bit crazy but it is her garden, her creation and the relationship that they share is unique, personal and nurturing.

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Gardening is a life lesson for the impatient

I’ve met a few very succesful people who have very impressive corporate careers and then decide to take up gardening.  Sometimes it is a painful experience both for them and for me.  For those people who have had ‘minions’ and expect immediate results in gardening like they have in their corporate lives it can be a reality that is hard to accept.

Gardens take time, there are always unexpected twists and turns and let’s face it sometimes nature can be unyielding, a little like my good self!  I often try to explain to people that gardening is a process, albeit an evolving one and that the process is just as important as the end result.

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I simply cannot move house again

I’m in my 50’s now and I’ve spent the last 5 years developing the Moosbach Garden and it feels like I’ve only just started.  Any logical person would sell the house and buy another with a good-sized garden that is flat but let’s face it I was probably at the back of the queue when they were handing out logic.  The Moosbach Garden is steep, there are very few even remotely flat spaces, the winter is long, cold and there is usually lots of snow. However, what is life without a few challenges?  I have worked many hours in my garden, I have planted uncountable numbers of plants and trees, this is a marriage that I simply cannot walk away from.  The thought of digging up thousands of euro’s worth of plants is not one I ever want to seriously contemplate.  My sister, who has lots of common sense (she got my share) tells me that I will never recoup the value of the plants when we move but I can’t think in those terms.  Every year those plants repay me for my financial investment by soothing my soul, bringing me untold amounts of happiness and providing a paradise both for me and wildlife, I reckon that is priceless.

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hazy summer days

 

I’m not a mover and shaker

I was never especially academic, I did OK but never excelled at anything, I had no idea of what career to follow and consequently was never going to set the world ablaze.  I have no children and am a little bit eccentric. What I can do is garden, I have been gardening for over 35 years but didn’t realise at an early age that I should make it my career.  Yes, you got it, I’m a slow learner! I have decided that I will be quite happy if during my time on this planet I can create a garden that is beautiful, that will endure and that people might visit it long after I have hung up my gardening gloves.  It is a tall order as there are so many beautiful gardens in the world and maybe I’m deluding myself but it’s my delusion so don’t deprive me of it.

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It’s great when things start coming together

When we moved here there wasn’t much of a garden at all and it has taken 5 years of hard graft, many gardening projects and lots of experimentation to get the soil and plant choices right.  The top garden is really starting to have the feel of what I wanted to create, the plants have found their feet and have lots of healthy top growth that is proportionate to the garden space.  We are just adding a pergola for the Paul’s Himalayan Musk and a row of poles and wires to support the climbing roses and then structurally we are finished.  The rest of the work in the top garden isn’t really work at all, weeding, dead-heading and pruning are the fun bits. I have a love of English flowers and as well as roses we have peonies, delphiniums and phlox.  Peonies appear to be my latest garden obsession, we have a mixture of herbaceous, tree and Itoh peonies. The first tree peony that I planted here is now 1.5 metres tall and is covered with flower buds and buds of a size that I have not seen before. I’m told that the flowers can be as big as a dinner plate once the plant is mature enough and happy. so fingers crossed.

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We are striving towards a BIO garden

We love nature and the planet and we want to do everything that we can to encourage biodiversity, so no weed killers, no slug pellets, no quick fixes.  We have a nature pond and a resident population of frogs, we have small lizards and we want to encourage hedge hogs. We have left piles of branches to provide overwintering habitats for hedge hogs and insects, what we are going for is a sustainable eco system.  I am not a gardener without misdemeanors, I have used far too many slug pellets in previous years and have also used weed killers.  However, this is not something that I am prepared to do anymore, I’m learning to work with nature rather than against it.  This year my other big goal is improving the soil composition to help retain water and this is so important with global warming.  I’m trying out bark mulch this year to see if it makes a difference.  In theory it helps reduce water evaporation, improves soil competition and allows mycorrhizal fungi to establish and this should lead to healthier plants.

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Are you getting it yet?

So the title of this piece is “Why I wouldn’t swap my garden for anything”  and I’m hoping that I have convinced some of you that a garden is a symbiotic relationship worth investing in, that it’s not just your garden that grows but yourself as well.   So you can keep your big cities, you can keep fortune and fame, I don’t need them.  What I do need is to be in a relationship that is honest, that has its ups and downs but where the needs of both parties are met and gardening fulfills these needs.  Don’t misinterpret me, I’m very happily married but I’m in 2 relationships, 1 with my husband and 1 with my garden, may they both be long and fruitful.  I partied endlessly in my youth but now that I’m in my 50’s I’d much rather be working in my own garden or walking around a National Trust garden than at a music festival.  Let my soundtrack now be the buzzing of bees, the trill of birdsong, the cockerel crowing from the orchard or a hen announcing proudly that she has just laid an egg.   Realising that not all rewards can be measured in financial terms, that the phrase ” return on investment” can be measured not only in an increase the value of your home but on how it’s improved your life-balance, your levels of happiness and helped nature and the planet. I’ going to sign off now as my husband has just finished baking a rhubarb cake from freshly harvested rhubarb from the vegetable garden and I think it would be rude to not try a piece!  I wish your all happy gardening, peace and joy.

 

The Moosbach Gardener.

 

 

 

A Golden September

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Desdemona

Some people adore the height of Summer in June and July when the garden is performing at its peak and it has to be said that it is glorious with the sumptuous excess of roses, delphiniums and phlox flowering in all of their glory but for me September can be even better.

Golden Septembers are not guaranteed

You don’t always get that golden Summer when it’s gloriously hot but when you do I think that it’s special.  What do I love so much about September? Well it is a time to be grateful for the gifts that natures bestows upon us.  It is a time of picking the last peaches and the first apples and pears, of harvesting the last of the summer crops from the vegetable garden, it is a time of plenty.  It’s also the time when the last few roses put on a dazzling display of beauty and I think that I enjoy them so much more because they stand out as beautiful highlights in the garden.

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Brother Cadfael

For me it is also the time to take a breath now that things have slowed down a little, I can step back from the manic duties of Summer and see how the garden has developed in those Summer months.

The big surprise of this Summer

The biggest surprise for me this Summer has been the roses, as many of you will know, we planted a new rose garden this year and it has done exceptionally well.  I have some varieties that have grown to a height of 6 feet or more, which really is incredible in their first year.  Olivia Rose Austin (1st picture above) is a perfect example, David Austin say that this rose generally grows to about 1.25 metres high and yet mine is standing at 6 feet tall, shows no signs of slowing down and is flowering for the 3rd time this year.  It has also been extremely healthy and has shown no signs of disease. he David Austin size guidelines are for the UK and in warmer climates they will grow taller and bigger.

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Olivia Rose Austin

Just look at this perfectly formed rose and also see how healthy the leaves are, it has not been sprayed at all.

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Harlow Carr

This rose, Harlow Carr, I planted in a group of 3, as recommended by David Austin, this is a rose that does so much better in the ground than in a pot, it creates a tall, bushy rose with lots of dainty pink roses that are highly perfumed.  In my opinion it would be a perfect variety for creating a scented rose hedge, I also like Rusosa “Wild Edric” for this purpose.

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Wollerton Old Hall

This is a climbing rose of great beauty, it is one the best scented climbing roses and repeat flowers all summer.

Living off the garden – is that not the dream?

 

At the moment we are able to get all that we need to eat from the garden.  It is so rewarding picking and eating fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden, I feel like we are living like kings!  The pears are absolutely fantastic, sweet and juicy, as are the peaches. We are still harvesting and eating fresh courgettes but we also have enough preserved in jars to last us the winter, along with peas, beans and herbs.  So I think that September is a time to be grateful, a time to be thankful that we live somewhere that we can grow fresh fruit and vegetables and grow beautiful flowers.  Is there a chance that we will end up taking it all for granted? Never.

When Winter comes

When Winter comes I promise not to moan about how cold it is or about how much snow there is, instead I will remember, as I open up a jar of some preserved goody, how wonderful the Summer was, how kind and how generous the garden and nature have been to us.  Does that alone not make this wonderful planet worth saving?

My next post will be showcasing the David Austin roses that will be available in March here at The Moosbach Garden.

We have a small selection of roses for sale at a reduced price (25 euros) a saving of 3,95 Euros.  They are all in flower and make an ideal gift for a friend (or yourself)!

Is gardening the epitomy of a symbiotic relationship?

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I’ve not been particularly well for the last month so I am a little behind in the garden.  It’s funny how much changes in the garden when you turn your back for 5 mins.  It struck me today that I have a really symbiotic relationship with the garden and although it’s hard work I can’t help feeling that I’m getting the better deal.

What’s all this nonsense about a symbiotic relationship?

I hear people saying out loud what is this bloke on about, symbiotic relationship? It’s just a garden.  Well, I beg to differ and I’ll tell you why.  I have a problem with my shoulder and can’t do too much physical work a the moment and whilst the exact problem was being diagnosed I’ve been reluctant to do much physical work for fear of making things worse.  I’ve been diagnosed now and have severe arthritis which has caused my shoulder bones to increase in size, resulting in a reduced space for muscle, ligament and nerve movement.  It hurts but it’s not going to get any worse by working in the garden (as long as I don’t over do it).  I’ve ventured out into the garden these last 2 days as the thought of the weeds overtaking the flower beds is too much for me.  What a difference there is in the garden in such a short space of time.  Yes, ok there are weeds galore (they are opportunists) but there a masses of roses in flower and the garden is full with ripe, delicious fruit. I harvested a bucket (literally a bucket) of peaches with blood-red juicy flesh and today I collected another bucket of pears, perfectly ripened, juicy and very tasty.  it got me to thinking about the relationship that I have with the garden and it is definitely symbiotic. Here is the dictionary definition:

  1.  Biology.  A close, prolonged association between 2 or more organisms of different species that may but not necessarily benefit each member.
  2. A relationship of mutual benefit or dependence

Well, the garden needs weeding, watering and feeding, so that’s my part covered and in return I get beautiful flowers all summer long, I get potatoes, beans, peas courgettes, cabbage, carrots, lettuce, beetroot, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, plums, apples, pears and peaches and let’s not forget the many herbs.  I reckon for the amount of effort I put in I am more than compensated.

Don’t undervalue the feeding of your soul

It is very easy to see all of the physical things that you get from your garden but what about the things that you can’t see or hold?  It has become an acknowledged medical fact that gardening is good for your mental health.  I felt it yesterday, having been cooped up inside the house for the last few weeks I was feeling a little down in the dumps.  As soon as I stepped into the garden I felt my spirits lifting.  It felt like the garden was saying “Hey, we missed you, welcome back.  Look what we have to show you”

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The peaches above are not very large but that’s to be expected after the hot and dry summer that we’ve had but they are so juicy and so very tasty.  We are currently living off of our garden.  For breakfast we are having pears, apples and peaches with a bit of musili. Our evening meal consists of vegetable fresh from the garden and wonderful free range eggs from our chickens.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I love reducing my environmental footprint.  All his food has only travelling from the garden to the kitchen and it’s not been sprayed with anything, except water. Ok our produce is not of a uniform shape, our pears have blemishes on their skin and our carrots are a funny shape but they taste fantastic.

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Thank you garden

So, yes gardening a symbiotic and wonderful relationship and I will be fulfilling my part of the relationship over the next few weeks by weeding, watering, repairing supports and pruning what needs pruning. I will be thankful that I am healthy enough to get out there and garden and I will be especially thankful when I bite into that next juicy pear.

 

 

 

 

 

The Turning Of The Seasons

I really like years when there are distinct seasons, there’s a certain rhythm to it that brings contentment.  I think it brings contentment because life is cyclical, everything that we do is based around repeating patterns. Each day repeats with its 24 hours, each week, each month, each year and each birthday.  Imagine if we didn’t have a concept of time, how would we measure our existence apart from the changing from day to night and the wrinkles on our faces.

Childhood Memories

I think like most people, when I look back at my childhood I remember long hot summers that never seemed to end and long cold, snowy winters.  Perhaps we romanticize our childhoods and it wasn’t always like that and our brains are just playing a trick on us. As I have got older it has seemed that the seasons have all blurred into each other, Winters seem mild and wet and Summers full of rain and inclement weather.

The bizarre weather of 2018

This year has been a strange one, it was preceded by what seemed like a very long Winter, it wasn’t particularly cold here, we didn’t have a metre of snow but it was windy and everything dried out and we lost quite a few plants in their dormant phase.  Spring didn’t really appear, we went from Winter to Summer in the space of a couple of days. I still can’t get my head around a temperature change of 10 degrees celsius or more in a day, how does that work?

A long, hot and very dry summer

This summer has been gloriously hot but far too dry with next to no rainfall here for 3 months resulting in hours of watering and ultimately a dry well. Suddenly the weather changed from the upper 30’s to the lower 20’s. It’s like there’s a mad scientist or bond villain with the ability the change the weather in a heartbeat.  If that is you, stop it now, OK.

A return to bio rhythm please

What we all need is a return to natural patterns of weather.  Lets have a cool misty Autumn where the air is filled with the aroma of fermenting windfall apples and smoke from bonfires when gardeners are tidying up their gardens.  Let us have a cold winter where frozen leaves crunch under our feet and rose hips glisten with frost in the morning.  Let us have a slow and gentle awakening of nature in Spring, let crocuses and daffodils poke their heads above ground at the end of February and then flower for weeks in April. Let leaves on trees and hedges delight us with their slow awakening and please let that first green of Spring be a green that is unique to that moment, innocent, pure,full of hope and expectation.

But it’s not all bad

Ok so it’s been a crazy year for the planet, for people, for wildlife, for nature but for those with water it’s been a great year for fruit and a fantastic year for roses.  Everyone I talk to about gardening say, “hasn’t this been a good year for roses?” and in fairness it has, roses love lots of sun and that is just what they got.  I chose this year to create a new rose garden and it’s done really well, so maybe it’s me that has the crazy weather controlling technology (who would have though that behind my mild manner lurks an evil genius?)

My guide to success with roses

People often ask me what the secret to growing fantastic roses is and I’m happy to tell them, it’s not a trade secret after all. Here’s what I do, I feed them when the first leaves appear and then again when the first set of flowers are finished but most importantly I give them lots of water everyday.  Like most plants, what roses need is plenty of water and sunlight.  Roses need a minimum of 4 hours sunshine a day in the summer if they are going to thrive.  Then when Autumn comes roses need a break, they need to go to sleep and rest, kind of a cyclical pattern right?  Which brings us right back to where we started, bio rhythms and seasons.

Looking forward to Autumn days

So this week I will be getting my Wellington boots out of the cellar, dusting off my old clothes that can get muddy, torn and even singed by sparks from the many bonfires I intend starting.  I will leave some piles of wood, twigs and compost as a refuge for wildlife though.  If you have a vegetable patch or an allotment, enjoy the fruits of your labours and if you have some spare produce give something to somebody who hasn’t been bitten by the gardening bug. Let’s convert some new people to the wonderous world of gardening and nature. #make the world a better place.

 

Water or lack of water, muck, mulch and water storage

I think that this summer has been a major wakeup call for everyone, gardeners included.  The last real drought was in 1976 when I was a mere 7 years old.  There is a danger in the era of fake news, social media and the over dramatisation of everyone and everything that the real issues get burried in the tidal flow of information that bombards us on a daily basis.  However, this year (globally) the weather has been extreme with parks in the UK so dry that they are brown instead of green and some gardeners having to choose which plants they want to save by watering.  It has been a horrendous time for gardeners and farmers alike but it does bring the subject of climate change to the forefront and makes everyone re-evaluate how we use water.

I’m not a huge user of social media, yes I have a Facebook account and a tumblr account but I only use it for exchanging plant pictures and showing my appreciation for the work and results of fellow gardeners.  I am not really interested in what someone had for dinner, I’m certainly not interested in being ‘poked’ and I definitely do not want to be exposed to the negativity of somebody venting their spleen when they are upset.  It seems to me that society has lost its tact, kindness and suitability filter, please let’s have it back.

As a society I think we all have a part to play in reducing fake news, which in my opinion seriously endangers democracy and world peace.  Instead of ranting about something transient let’s all focus on what is important. Lets start with the planet, the environment and how we treat each other.  Maybe it’s too big an ask.  The current issue is that the planet is in danger and humans have to change their behaviour.  I prescribe to the philosophy that we are not owners of land or the planet but merely guardians or caretakers and we should be passing it on in a better state than it’s in for future generations, plants and wildlife.  My hope is that this year will help to refocus human beings worldwide away from celebrity and social media as our main sources of human interaction. Let’s interact face to face and more importantly, let’s make a lasting change.

I was born in the 1960’s and I have grown up in a time where the availability of electricity, water and food were taken for granted and it was assumed that there would always be an unlimited supply.  This year has shown us this is simply not the case.  Now, we have to accept that global warming is a reality.  Humans are using up too much of the planet’s resources at an increasingly alarming rate and unless we do something it’s going to get worse.  This year could either be a blip or it could be the way the planet is heading.  I am hoping it’s a blip but my gut feeling is that it’s not.  I think that the Ocean Rescue campaign by Sky is fantastic but I also think that it’s easy to just become a passive observer.  I’ve always held the belief that real lasting change doesn’t come from governments and legislation, although it does have it’s part to play, if we really want to change the impact that we are having on the planet then we need to take action and when I say ‘We’ I mean everyone. We need to reduce our environmental footprint.  What does this entail?  Well if you have a garden, you could grow some fruit and vegetables, there’s nothing better than home-grown that hasn’t been sprayed with any chemicals. Admittedly, we are in a modern world where many people in towns and cities live in flats and don’t have access to a gardening space but there are alternative ways in which you can do your bit. When you go to the supermarket, check where your produce comes from, make a conscious choice not to buy produce that comes from abroad.  Many food items have been picked before they are ripe, have travelled thousands of miles to reach the supermarket shelf and this has a huge environmental cost.  So I would advocate buying food that has been produced in your own country and where possible locally.  This not only helps the planet but also your local farmers.  Also consider the packaging, if you can buy it loose, do so, consider what happens to the packaging of what you buy after you have thrown it away.  It may sound dramatic but it is these choices that will really have an impact on the environment long-term. It’s a case of voting with your feet, not being complacent and waiting for your own government to create legislation.

Here in the Moosbach Garden we have produced a lot of our own produce this year.  We have grown and preserved beetroot, courgettes, beans, peas, black currants, red currants, gooseberries and peaches.  We have also grown cabbages, chard, lettuce, brussels sprouts, potatoes, apples, pears, plums and blue berries.  Yes, before you all shout at me, I know that we are lucky enough to have the space to grow such a wonderous selection but I would advocate utilizing the space that you have.

Gardening and growing your own produce is not without its trials but if you are successful then the rewards are worth it.  For us, not surprisingly, the biggest issue has been the hot weather and lack of water.  We have our own spring and this usually provides us with enough water for cooking, drinking, showering and extensively watering our 2 hectare garden.  This year in August our spring ran dry and there was no water coming through to our water tank (almost).  There was a little water trickling into the tank but not enough to supply the house and garden.  We had to make the hard choice to stop watering the garden, even though we knew that this would result in plants dying.  My daily routine of watering has been reduced to just watering the pots every other day, the rest of the garden is bone dry.  The more established shrubs are faring better than the newly planted ones but the trees are struggling and we have lost some.  You can see it here in the Back Forest everywhere you go, tree leaves have gone dry and dropped and branches are dead, I think next Spring will be a shock to many when it will become evident how many trees have been lost.

Here in the Moosbach Garden, where we have loamy soil with lots of stone the ground dries out very quickly.  Our plan for this Autumn and Winter is to install  a drip feed watering system in the garden which we can operate at night where less water will evaporate and to manure and mulch all of our flower beds, vegetable beds, shrubs and trees.  The best approach is to improve the composition of the soil and thereby its water retention properties and then apply a good layer of mulch, this should enable us to use less water but keep the plants moist enough to thrive.  We are lucky enough to have a neighbour with horses so our starting point is applying 2-year-old horse manure.  I’d like to make several points here, if you can’t get horse manure then cow manure will do but both need to be at leat 18 months to 2 years old, the manure should feel crumbly in your hand and you need to apply a good quantity and repeat every year.

Then in late Winter to early spring apply a good layer of Mulch or bark, this will help further with water retention and has the added bonus of suppressing weeds.  It is worth checking with your local authority or forestry commission where you might get bark at very reasonable rates.  It should be noted that this needs repeating every year, it takes at least 3 to 4 years to really improve the quality of your soil but the quality of soil is everything in gardening terms.  Also consider if you are making the best use of the rainwater that falls onto your property, water butts aren’t cheap but you can add one a year and sometimes local authorities run offers for reduced prices water butts.

I suspect that in the next couple of months the hot weather will be forgotten and we shall all be turning our attention to preparing our gardens for winter and this is the perfect time for planning how to improve your soil. Personally, I like nothing more than applying a good layer of manure to the garden in the cold of winter, it keeps me connected with the garden at a time when nothing is growing.

Here in the Moosbach Garden we are planning ahead and this winter will see us manuring and mulching beds along with building new walls and paths to compliment out new rose walk which connects 2 areas of the garden.

We wish you all a happy (and rainy) time.  Don’t forget that Autumn is the perfect time for planting new fruit trees whilst the soil is still warm.

 

Time for environmental revolution

It is snowing again at the Moosbach Garden, it feels like it has been snowing for months and I have to admit that I’m feeling a little bit like a caged animal. Bramble, my 4 legged confidant and helper is feeling likewise.  You might suspect from his name that Bramble is a labrador or sheepdog but he is in fact a black cat.  I recollect that he acquired the name because deep down my life partner wanted a dog.

Bramble definitely has ideas far above his station, he is the son of a farm cat but I think in a previous life he was a lady of leisure.  He has literally fallen on his feet and he’s going to milk the situation for all he can get.   He likes a delicate head massage and is especially fond of lying on his back under a warm lamp, so far he hasn’t demanded additional Spa treatments but it’s coming – trust me.

I’ve been reflecting on nature and the environment these last few days and it strikes me that the more I garden the more I think about the impact we have on the planet.  When I first came to live in Germany I was stunned by the large numbers of bees, bumble bees and butterflies that there were.  When I lived in the UK I was used to the fact that declining insect populations were inevitable but it’s not the case.  Many people think that the individual cannot play their part in turning the tide of declining populations but it’s simply untrue.

I do believe that governments have a part to play in eradicating the use of harmful chemicals and plastics but it is also true that individual action has an equally important role to play.  When I grew up  I was used to the fact that if you had unwanted weeds in your garden then you popped down to your local garden centre and purchased weed killer.  I think it has become a culturally acceptable way of dealing with a problem, regardless of the environmental impact, it’s advertised as an easy solution. We live in a world where we are presented with so-called easy solutions but not what the long-term consequences are. There are always consequences.

Here in Germany it is not part of the culture to use harmful chemicals and quick-fix solutions to eradicate weeds and bugs or not to recycle as much as possible.  Most drinks that you buy in bottles here come with a deposit and it is a normal, everyday occurrence to see people returning empty crates to supermarkets or beverage shops.

We all complain about it but it’s time to start doing something other than moan.  Get rid of all of your weed killers and start digging weeds out by hand, plant more companion plants that deter unwanted insects and bugs and stop using cheap plastic pots in the garden.  You can still use plastic pots if you want  but instead of buying those cheap, thin plastic pots that break after a year or less buy something of a better quality that lasts for years, this is both cheaper in the long-term and more environmentally friendly.  I was looking at buying seed trays the other day and was horrified at the array of cheap thin Plastic seeds trays that won’t last 5 minutes and will be relegated to landfill.  I remember as a child a relative who was a gardener for a big country house who grew all of the plants for the large garden from seed in robust seed trays, raked up the leaves in the autumn and made leaf mold compost.  So I say let’s stop doing what is easy and start doing what is right.  Look at what is environmentally sustainable and play your part in making that happen.

It is amazing how quickly the changes that you make take effect, given a chance nature and wildlife will recover.  Remember, when you create a garden you are creating a living ecosystem. The more plants that a garden has the more insects it has and the more birds it has.  It’s all about the food chain and I believe you can suffer a few plant casualties in order to restore natures balance.  Since we have been developing the Moosbach Garden a nature revolution has been taking place. Admittedly there were already a good number of bees, bumble bees and butterflies here but now there are more, there are more insects in the garden and therefore more birds and in greater diversity.  We also have more geckos, more frogs and more hedgehogs, more of everything. We have been here 4 years, that is such a short space of time but the change in a large one.  Species of wildlife that weren’t here when we moved in have come back.  Apart from the obvious feel good factor of knowing that you have helped restore the natural balance of things, you get blown away by how amazing  and how beautiful that insect is. What a privilege it is to encounter that dragonfly or marvel at the industrious droning of bees happily collecting nectar whilst pollinating flowers.  That is something we should protect for future generations, for ourselves, for the planet.

Here’s my list of things to do from now and forever:-
  1. Stop using any weed killers, pesticides or poisonous chemicals in your garden
  2. Investigate alternative methods like companion planting and weeding by hand
  3. Stop using cheap plastic pots and trays, either use terracotta pots or invest in more expensive, more robust, reusable trays and pots that will last for decades
  4. Recycle more garden waste, make your own compost, make leaf mold compost
  5. Collect the seeds from your own garden, store them and use the them following year, swap seeds with neighbours and other gardeners
  6. Grow some fruit and Vegetables using nothing but soil, natural fertilizers and home-made compost. There are very productive fruit tree varieties available now for small spaces as well as for larger gardens.  If you have space look at growing older varieties so that they are not lost forever.

There are many things that we can all do now, today, that have an immediate impact on our present and on our future.  As consumers we have the ultimate power to influence large corporations and government.  If we all went back to using a milkman who delivers milk in glass bottles and who collects the empties that are then reused, how long do you think it would be before the big supermarkets stopped stocking plastic bottles of milk?  For as long as we continue to buy produce contained in plastic they will keep producing it.  Next time you go shopping look at what you are buying.

Here’s my list of shopping do’s and don’ts :-
  1. Don’t buy anything in plastic that you could buy in glass or isn’t going to be recycled.
  2. Look at how much packaging there is on a product, what happens to that packaging after you’ve consumed what is in it, make an informed choice
  3. Buy produce that has been grown locally, reducing the environmental foot print, buy produce that’s in season locally and support local smaller producers
  4. Buy smaller quantities of food that you know you’ll use and that you won’t end up throwing away
  5. Take your own material bags for packing your shopping
  6. Cook more meals from raw ingredients, break the cycle of convenience food and live additive and preservative free, it doesn’t take as much time or effort as you think.

I think most of us agree that there is climate change and that something radicle needs to happen, it’s time to stop hoping that the governments of the world will make it happen.  Governments are influenced by large corporations and big business – it’s a fact. So be the change and be the change now.  We all need to take responsibility for ourselves, our choices and our wonderful planet.

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