To mark Earth Day this year, we’re sharing 5 ways you can take action to be the change in your garden & help ensure your green space nourishes the planet rather than degrade or damage it.
1. Commit to ditching peat.
Peatlands are finite, precious biodiverse habitats which also act as huge stores of carbon, vital particularly in Irelands efforts to help mitigate climate change. It’s estimated that peatlands store up to 10 times more carbon per hectare than any other ecosystem. So lets leave peat where it should be – in the ground & wet at that as drained peatlands start oxidizing & thus releasing carbon. For more reasons to make the switch see this Irish Times article. There are lots of fantastic alternatives. We recommend starting by making as much compost as you possibly can yourself & then for any extra needed use one of the following commercially available peat-free composts.
- Klausmann Seed & Potting Composts available from Fruit Hill Farm
- Geeup (Better for Potting established plants or mulching)
- For bulk amounts we use Enrich (again better for mulching or more established plants). Available from MD O’Sheas in Killarney or Cork for €57 a ton bag of you buy 4 or directly from Enrich for larger orders.
2. No Mow Wildflower Meadows.
It’s been fantastic to see the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, newly launched for 2021-2025 rallying people to slow or stop mowing lawns & start celebrating native wildflowers. Pictoral or newly sown native meadows have their place in denuded spaces where there’s no option but to start anew. However, to remove all turf & topsoil, treat with a chemical herbicide before sprinkling in a packet of exotic annual blooms gathered from across the planet is both time, energy, financially & ecologically costly. All you need do is let the millions of wildflowers seeds already in the ground grow! Read on for our five-step guide on how to:-
- Create short-flowering meadows with paths or spaces you want to sit or play by reducing mowing to every 4-6 weeks. This allows lower growing wildflowers such as clover, dandelions, daisy’s & all-heal to flower.
- Create long-flowering meadows by allowing the grass to grow long. You will get some tougher wildflowers popping through amongst the grass such as – Dandelions, Daisies, Knapweed, Thistles, & Ragwort.
- In late Summer once any existing wildflowers have finished & their seed heads have turned brown, cut everything as low as you can with a strimmer. Leave for a few days to allow any residual seed to fall to the ground, then rake all this material up & remove. It can be added to your compost heap or spread under hedges & trees around your garden as a mulch.
- Further rake some patches (down the soil) & sow yellow rattle seed: https://www.fruithillfarm.com/yellow-rattle-seed.html Yellow rattle helps weaken grass creating spaces for your natural bank of wildflowers seeds to start emerging.
- Continue this process every year & you’ll start to see more & more wildflowers appear!!
3. Use Sheeps Fleece!
Sheep Farmers get almost no money for fleece anymore. Instead of buying coir or other organic mulch mats, give you money to a local farmer for some fleeces. Every new tree we plant gets a ring of fleece added around the base to suppress weeds while it establishes. Same when lining hanging baskets, we use fleece or when planting up pots for the Summer, again a layer of fleece at the base acts as a little water reservoir. Over time the fleece breaks down feeding your plants – win win for farmer, your plants & you!
4. Install an IBC tank.
If you’ve got a 1.5m of space under a downpipe somewhere, install an IBC tank & collect your own rainwater for use in the garden! IBC’s are essentially a giant plastic tank in a metal cage generally start their life transporting fruit juices in bulk but can be re-used into the most fantastic rain-water storage systems. They’re cheap for their size (We get ours for €70 from Martin at Bantry Storage inc delivery & a tap to switch the water on & off at the bottom) & hold 1,000 litres of water. The only downside is the plastic isn’t UV proof so you’ll need to cover it. We clad ours in wooden ‘skins’ which you can get v.cheaply if not free from your local sawmill. See one of our in action in this video from Adam on watering from 04.13mins!
5. Ditch Herbicides & Pesticides.
There’s just no need to use them. Don’t forgot about hidden insecticides contained in pet flea treatments. Click here for a recent article by the Guardian for more on this.
Here’s to Earth Day, today & everyday! If you’d like help transforming your garden into a space that will nourish you without costing the planet, we offer a range of nature-based garden design services. To discover more click on the button below.