Top 10s

10 ways to reduce plastic consumption in the garden

Reduce plastic consumption in the garden is an idea that may be getting overlooked.

About two years ago I wrote an article with some ideas on how you can recycle some regular household items at your allotment or in your garden. Fast forward two years and that message has changed from recycle plastic to don’t use plastic in the first place.

Using less plastic is the buzz-phrase of 2018 and I couldn’t agree more. We’ve had the stone age, the bronze age and now we’re in the plastic age. It’s everywhere and there’s no getting rid of it. So it’s understandable why this message has changed.

Speaking from experience, I often hold myself in a high regard environmentally and believe that I’m doing my bit by having an allotment, and I suppose I’m doing more good than bad – but in reality I’m not without plastic sin, like so many others.

I’m in the midst of trying to reduce my plastic consumption in my everyday life and then it got me thinking about the plastic that we use in our gardens and I came to the realisation that the garden is a place whereby we can drastically reduce our plastic consumption the easiest.

So here’s my top 10 suggestions for reducing plastic in the garden or at the allotment.

Ditch plastic labels – replace with wood


I’ll confess, I’ll place a plastic label in the ground identifying plants and crops and I’ll forget about it and find it a year later.

Instead of plastic, we can use wooden labels which in my opinion, look nicer and are biodegradable. As you can see here they’re quite reasonably priced. I think eating my weight in Magnums might be more fun than ordering off of Amazon though.

One suggestion would be to sand off the writing and re-use if you’d still like to save yourself a penny or two.

Ditch plastic pots replace with with terracotta

Gosh, whatever happened to the use of terracotta pots. I’ve got dozens of plastic pots at my allotment and hardly any terracotta pots. I’m yet to look or elaborate on the benefits of terracotta over plastic, but the most obvious benefit is the material one. Terracotta smashes, yes, but it eventually breaks down. I think you also get a lot more variety with terracotta posts in terms of design.

Ditch plastic seed trays replace with homemade seed starters

There’s loads online about making you’re own seed starters, which can make for a great alternative to a plastic seed starter tray. The most common and trusted method used by the gardening community is the use of the toilet rolls. Richard from Sharpen Your Spades has also published this easy to follow tutorial about creating using toilet rolls as your seed starters. Check it out here.

Make your own potting compost (or order in bulk)

This tip focuses on eradicating the use of plastic bags at the allotment. There are two ways you can do this. You can make your own potting compost – if you’re not sure on how to do this, then check out Anne’s method from her blog The Micro Gardener. The second method is to order your potting compost in bulk from your local builders merchants or garden centre. It’s a more of a dent to the wallet, but it will last longer than you think. In some cases, you can return the jumbo bag at the builders merchants for re-use.

Avoid polyethylene or Polypropylene based netting

This is a tough nut to crack. Most netting on the market are made from polyethylene. Now polyethylene will biodegrade eventually when put under certain conditions. I’ve done some research online and jute netting can make for a natural alternative, but generally is unlikely to keep the butterflies at bay. So If you can get hold of netting made of cotton like this, then you’re onto a winner.

Use a metal watering can (can plastic watering cans be recycled?)

Yep, this is a pretty obvious one. Metal watering cans will last a lifetime – where as plastic cans can go brittle and eventually shatter.

Replace plastic water butts with metal tanks or drums

Old household water tanks make for great water butts – I never know where you get hold of them other than knowing someone who’s getting a new boiler installed or a local plumber who’s getting rid of one. It might be worth calling your local gas man or plumber to see if they can help out. If you don’t know you local gas man, then look to Ebay or Amazon – you have to love Amazon, because you can buy empty metal oil drums here.

Use a pallet compost bin rather than a plastic one

So plastic compost bins aren’t as bad you think. Most of them are made from recycled plastics – you may even find the plastic recycling code on it too if this is the case. Earth 911 has information about recycling codes if you’re interested. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re plastic. A Pallet compost bin is great and easy alternative to a plastic compost bin.

Ditch the cable tie

As useful as they are and easy to use (and I’m just as guilty as the next person) these little plastic ties are up there with the straw, micro-beads and glitter. You use them once and then throw them away, which is a terrible thing for the environment. I’m not even sure if these are recyclable? Anyway, biodegradable twine or jute will do just the same job as a cable tie.

Make your own bug repellents

This tip is all about using less plastic bottles and sprays. I know what you’re thinking… I’d be buying 4 bottles of something else to make one bottle of repellent. Well it’s not actually the case as the homemade bug sprays can be made out of things you’d probably buy anyway (probably). Anyway, here’s a really good video showing you how to make your own natural bug repellents. Enjoy.

So there we have it – top tips for reducing plastic consumption in the garden.

Do you have any top tips for reducing plastic in the garden? If so, I’d love to hear what they are in the comments below. 

Featured Image by Mary Greene on Pexels.

Top 10s

10 Favourite Gardening Buzzfeed videos #2

It’s a Friday and you know what that means – today we sit back, scroll and watch as I give my run down of my favourite gardening Buzzfeed videos.

Gardening Buzzfeed videos are brilliant! Nifty videos cover arts and crafts and Tasty videos cover food and recipes. I’m often watching gardening and outdoor related Buzzfeed Nifty videos or Buzzfeed Tasty videos via YouTube or Facebook. I think they’re really cool and quick to digest.  When it comes to the gardening, the guys at Buzzfeed have produced some fantastic content that involve recycling, creativity and true out of the box thinking.

I’ve started to compile my favourite Buzzfeed videos that I hope you can enjoy. In fact if you’ve tried any of the below – I’d love to see what you’ve been getting up to and what you think of these projects in the comments below.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Hanging plant room divider

Mushroom lawn lights

How to make a Swedish fire torch

(Great for those summer nights!)

Plants for plant killers

Not everybody is into gardening, but there’s no need to refer to them as ‘Plant killers’…

4 Ways to preserve your summer veggies

Make a Kokedama hanging garden

I had to look up what Kokedama means – it means moss. So this is how you make a moss hanging garden.

How to stop garden pests

Terra-Cotta BBQ smoker

Now we’re talking!

10 ways to waste less and help the environment

Come on guys – we all need to do our bit.

DIY Trash can rain barrel

Seriously need to make myself one of these…

Top 10s

10 Favourite Gardening Buzzfeed videos #1

Gardening Buzzfeed videos are brilliant! Nifty videos cover arts and crafts and Tasty videos cover food and recipes. I’m often watching gardening and outdoor related Buzzfeed Nifty videos or Buzzfeed Tasty videos via YouTube or Facebook. I think they’re really cool and quick to digest.  When it comes to the gardening, the guys at Buzzfeed have produced some fantastic content that involve recycling, creativity and true out of the box thinking.

I’ve started to compile my favourite Buzzfeed videos that I hope you can enjoy. In fact if you’ve tried any of the below – I’d love to see what you’ve been getting up to and what you think of these projects in the comments below.

I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Outdoor Tire Seats

Succulent Dinosaur

How to grow herbal tea at home

Solar illuminated planter

Grow you’re own guacamole garden

Mannequin head planters

How to turn a carrot into a recorder

OK – this one isn’t particularly garden related… It’s a just a bit of fun 🙂

Top 10s

10 Gifts for mother’s who love to garden

If you have a mother who has an allotment, loves to garden or a mother who loves flowers and plants I’ve cobbled together some gift ideas to salute Mother’s Day 2018.

Monty Don – Down to Earth

Down to Earth by Monty Don was published last year and from what I can see, has been flying off the shelves. It’s still marked as a number 1 best seller on Amazon, so if you’re a Gardener’s World fan this gift will certainly earn you some brownie points.

Click here to purchase it off Amazon

Gold Leaf Gloves – Dry touch

I was the lucky recipient of  pair of Gold Leaf Gloves Dry Touch gloves this Christmas and I have to say, without understatement, these have to be the best pair of gardening gloves I’ve ever owned. The dry touch is a fantastic multi-purpose glove and they’re so comfortable to work in. You can find your local stockist here.

RHS Membership

The RHS is the world’s leading horticultural organisations – so it makes sense to be a member if you’re into gardening. Also the gardens have some great seasonal events to attend which can make for some lovely days out. You also get a discount for tickets to the Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows. To see some membership options – click here.

Kitchen Garden Magazine subscription

I recently admitted in a Twitter chat that I hardly ever buy a garden magazine. On reflection, this is a bit of a shame – I really should purchase magazines more often because they are so rich in content, community and competitions. Paying for a subscription is a great gift for someone in this day and age. You’re giving them the gift of reading! Click here to see about a subscription to Kitchen Garden Magazine.

Grow Your Own Magazine subscription

OK, so there are dozens of the gardening magazines on the shelves – so you don’t have to subscribe to just Kitchen Garden Magazine. Grow Your Own Magazine is also very good and very highly regarded.  They too have a great readership and they often include seeds with their issues. Click here to see about subscriptions to Grow Your Own Magazine.

Tickets to RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Tickets to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2018 are now on sale and from experience this makes for a great day out. Chelsea is rich in plant and design inspiration. There are tonnes of stalls and you can easily find out what the fashion trends of the year ahead will be. I went to the Chelsea Flower Show last year, so click here to see some pictures of some of the gardens. Click here to purchase tickets.

Tickets to RHS Hampton Flower Show

I’ve been to Hampton Court a number of times – but I’ve never been to the RHS Hampton Flower Show. I can imagine it being a great addition or alternative to RHS Chelsea, but either way it’s another fantastic day out to put in the diary. Hampton Court Palace is stunning in all weathers, and the gardens – even without a show are great. If you go, let me know if you complete the maze! Click here to purchase tickets.

Alex Mitchell – Gardening on a shoestring

Alex Mitchell offers some great ideas when it comes to gardening on a budget. As I was doing research for this post – this was listed on my Amazon account as a number 1 best seller. It should tie in with a lot of the sentiments that allotment goer’s have and that’s how to do things in the most cost efficient way possible. If your mother has an allotment, this book should really help her out. Click here to purchase a copy.

Herb Garden Seed Growing Kit Gift Box – Thompson and Morgan

I’ve done a post recently about how important herbs are when it comes to cooking – it’s a great read so you should check it out here. These sorts of kits are great and they set you up with everything you need to start your own herb garden. This particular kit contains seeds for basil, parsley, chives, coriander and rocket, as well as seed starters, snips, labels and pot plugs. Click here to purchase your herb growing kit.

3 piece tool set – Spear and Jackson

I have a pair of Spear and Jackson sheers and they’re truly brilliant. This particular set utilises carbon steel and have weatherproofed handles to enhance durability. Tools really should stand the test of time in my book and recently – I’ve gone through trowels like there’s no tomorrow, I doubt I’m the only one, so this should be a really well received gift.  Click here to purchase.

There we have it! This year’s Mother’s Day Gift suggestions – if there’s any I might have missed, leave a comment below 🙂 

Top 10s

10 Allotment and gardening questions answered…

Every now and then I take a look at the search terms that bring readers to my blog and I pick out the questions and search terms that need answering. It’s amazing to see what people are typing into Google and finding out what needs to be answered.

I try and do this exercise once a year, and below are some of the questions asked over the last year and a half by people from all over the web. I hope you find these useful!

What does “Kelveldon Wonder” mean?

Kelveldon Wonder is a variety of pea that was bred in Kelveldon, Essex in 1925. They’re a heritage variety that I’ve grown at the allotment before. Generally speaking, when I think of Essex – I don’t think of variety of pea…

Why are runner beans so expensive to buy?

This is a very good question. I can only put this down to how much space they take up, how much water is required and the fact that they’re probably one of the few vegetables that still have to be hand picked. They’re incredibly seasonal as well which can also dictate the price based on that years growing conditions. Although, in 2016 we did experience a hike in prices.

What tools do I need for an allotment?

When you have an allotment, you really don’t need that much. Thankfully I’ve written this article here that’ll give you some sort of idea.

Garden Fork

Why is weeding important?

Weeding is important because weeds take up space and water that should otherwise go to your plants. By definition, a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Here’s an article where I go into a bit more depth about weeding.

Do slugs eat carrot tops?

I’ve never seen a slug turn what it has for a nose to anything at the allotment. That said, with carrots – I’ve seen them decimate seedlings and totally bypass carrots that are much more mature. Which brings me onto the next question…

How to deal with slugs at the allotment?

There’s a number of ways you can deal with these little blighters, click here to read more.

Why out of date seeds won’t germinate?

Some, but not all out of date seeds will germinate – it really does depend on variety they are. Packets of seeds left in the shed, that are not kept in a cool, dry place for most of the time are at the behest of fluctuations in temperature, which can effect germination. If you have a packet of seeds that are out date, my advice is to sow them earlier than what’s stated on the packet – just in case! Here are a few more reasons why seeds won’t germinate from Thompson and Morgan.

When can I plant Casablanca Garlic bulbs?

Probably the most common variety of garlic you’ll see at your local garden center. Usually available during the winter months, I tend to plant my Casablanca garlic in January – but if you can plant them before Christmas then all the better!

What to do with a spare allotment?

Get digging of course! It can be a bit overwhelming taking on a new plot and there are tonnes of things you can do when you first start out. Here’s my take on what to when you first get an allotment. If you have just taken on a plot – keep at it! It pays off and having an allotment is very much in fashion.

What household items can you use at an allotment?

I wrote this article on recycling about two years or so ago now, and if you do a search online there’s probably even more to recycle.

Bonus Question: What are the main vegetables grown in Mozambique?

Probably the strangest question to appear in my stats… But according to Google…

Farmers grow cassava and maize/corn as the main crops, with millet, rice and beansalso common. Cash-crops provide vital extra income. Cashew and mango trees can be found on many smallholdings. And cotton,tobacco, sugar and tea are grown in certain areas of the country.

Top 10s

10 gardening things you can do when it’s freezing cold outside

It’s December, it’s absolutely freezing outside and I’m currently tucked up in bed writing this post. I’m debating on whether to go the allotment – and I’m wondering what I’m going to do when I’m there as the ground is frozen, and there’s very little growing.

If you’re a fair weather gardener and you want to get outside and get going, but the the baltic temperatures are putting you off – here are ten things you can do for your garden or allotment when it’s absolutely freezing outside.

1. Make a seed strip

Seed strips help to keep all of your plants in a nice neat row. You then plant the strip, the seeds grow and eventually the strip rots into the ground. You can buy these in the the garden centre, but they’re so easy to make at home.

Here’s a little how to video I found online.

2. Make some seed starter pots

Making seed starter pots is dead easy and there’s a lot of material online about how you can do this from either old newspapers or toilet rolls. It’s a bit of a process so definitely something worth doing when the weather isn’t to your liking.

Here’s another video showing you how to make your seed starters.

3. Pick Brussels sprouts

Believe it or not, Brussels sprouts are best if you’ve had a chill overnight. They’re most likely one of the last things you’ll pick in the garden. Lower temperatures will encourage your plants to produce sugars meaning your sprouts will take on a sweeter taste.

4. Plan your gardening

Put the kettle on, get your books out and decide what you would like to grow and where. Many gardeners I know draw out their plots on paper and scribble down some ideas. How did you fair over the last year? Now is a good time to reflect and improve for next year.

5. Make a herb garden

Herbs are brilliant and easy to grow indoors and there’s a tonne of ways you can do this. I’ve seen old baked bean tins, jars and even empty oranges being used a herb gardens. Buzzfeed’s Nifty are are churning out videos all the time on how to do this and here is a compilation of them.

6. Make some eco friendly weed killers and pesticides

2018 is my year to be more eco friendly, I’m going to be using less plastic, walk more and look into some eco friendly or homemade solutions to use in the garden. There are loads of recipes online for eco friendly pesticides and weed killers to suit your needs – go on, give it a Google.

7. Make some drip feeders

Economical use of water is a great thing to focus on and homemade drip feeders are a great way of recycling wine bottles, milk cartons and plastic bottles to.

Here’s a great article by Buzzfeed on how to make a wine bottle feeder.

8. Brush up on your gardening knowledge

We all have successes and failures in the garden, what makes us a better gardener is understanding why some things work and why some things don’t. We are at the mercy of nature, so it’s good to do a little bit of research if you can.

9. Order your seeds for the next season

I love the smell of fresh seeds in the morning… It smells like…(enter your own ending here!). If you’ve planned you garden for next year (point 4) what better to cement that commitment than to order your seeds.

10. Have a bonfire

I love a bonfire! No matter what you get up to outside in the cold weather, light a match, stay warm and get rid some of the wood and other burnable material you’ve been meaning to get rid of all year.

Remember to wrap up warm folks and have fun!