Conservation, Current Issues, Organic, Scott, Sustainable Living

world soil dayWe’re experiencing a climate emergency. This message has finally found a voice in society and awareness of the issues facing our planet are beginning to be discussed with the attention they deserve. One of the most pressing but unreported of these is the condition of the Earth’s soil. You’ll know how important soil is to the health of your garden; the same is true for our nations soil and the soil of our planet. The 5th of December marks World Soil Day, an international project started by the United Nations to promote awareness and action over soil erosion. 

So what is soil erosion?

world soil day

When we think of the climate emergency we may think of large blocks of ice falling into the sea or freak weather showing on the news but soil erosion is an issue that is just as catastrophic whilst remaining widely unknown. Soil erosion is a wearing down of the most fertile layer of soil. This is the layer of soil that contains all the best nutrients and organic matter that’s suited for growing everything from forests to garden plants and vital crops. 

Isn’t soil erosion natural?

world soil day

Soil erosion is a natural process but it’s normally a slow one. As is so often the case in these stories, it’s the actions of humanity that have accelerated the issue to near breaking point. Intense farming, singular crop use, deforestation and expansive building of disruptive infrastructure are all things that have caused this process to accelerate. Dealing with the natural causes involved a shift in the way farms operate, due to human action, these shifts in behaviour need to happen on a global scale to help mitigate the damage.

How serious is the problem?

Time is running out to make such changes with the UN claiming we have less than 60 years before the planet runs out of fertile topsoil; a disaster considering this is where 95% of the world’s food is grown. Soil erosion is a silent symptom of the climate emergency but it can make its effects known via food shortages, lack of crop diversity, higher carbon levels in the atmosphere and accelerated climate catastrophe…  

What’s being done?

Word is beginning to spread and actions are being taken. The formation of Groundswell in 2015, the UK’s leading agricultural conservation event, is a sign of farmers recognising the problem and vowing to make a change in how they work that will benefit everyone. 

There are lots of practices that farms can introduce to regenerate their soil. Dropping the use of chemicals such as pesticides and insecticides, turning away from tilling machinery, planting more diverse crops and changing grazing practises can ALL contribute to healthier soil. The end result can be more nutrient-rich, varied and organic produce for us as consumers, farms that are more likely to stand the test of time and a healthier planet.  

organic produce

What can I do to help?

The best thing you can do to support the soil crisis is to be informed. Arm yourself with the know-how of what’s going on with our world’s soil and spread the word! This basic step will help you make more informed choices about where your food comes but also lend you a voice when it comes to communicating these ideas to those with the power to change them and stop bad practices causing soil erosion.  

soil

See our quick list below for ideas on how you can celebrate:

  1. Get out in the garden and test your own soil.
  2. Get a local school involved with a soil health workshop.
  3. Shop your local area for organic farms to try and locate fresh produce.
  4. Plan a sponsored run or walk to raise awareness of soil erosion and wider climate issues.
  5. Share this blog post and spread the word!

For more information on World Soil Day see this handy infographic from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations: Click here 

 

Scott at Primrose

Scott is a copywriter currently making content for the Primrose site and blog. When at his desk he’s thinking of new ways to describe a garden bench. Away from his desk he’s either looking at photos of dogs or worrying about the environment. He does nothing else, just those two things.

See all of Scott’s posts.

Current Issues, Guest Posts, How To, Solar Lighting, Sustainable Living, Water Features

solar power garden

Using solar energy for a more sustainable and efficient living is no longer far-fetched. More and more people are opting for this alternative source of energy that saves money, energy and the environment. Obviously, the cost-effectiveness of solar energy is one of the biggest perks for the majority of homeowners, and especially those that pay a great deal of attention to gardening. Providing plants with the necessary energy during the colder months, and even watering, requires a lot of energy, which can truly turn into a financial issue. The bigger your garden needs, the bigger the bill. In that respect, investing in solar panels may be the perfect way to keep your garden flourishing and cut expenses.

solar lights

Solar lights

One of the most popular ways to use solar energy to power your garden is to use it for the lighting. Essentially, solar panels can accumulate enough energy during the day so that you can light up and illuminate your garden at night. You can create different effects with low-energy LED lights and even light up your garden pond.

Power up the fountains

Speaking of ponds, you also have the possibility to power your fountains with solar energy. In general, solar energy doesn’t require complex wiring, which makes the installation of various water features quite simple and almost effortless. However, pumps may not work during the night (unless they have a battery back up) so keep that in mind if you want to keep fish in your pond.

solar fountain

Water your plants

This may as well be one of the best uses of solar energy when it comes to gardening. Plants need watering and depending on the size of your garden, this task can become quite tedious and time-consuming. If you opt for an irrigation system, you can save yourself a lot of time, but you can also save yourself from trouble and unnecessary expenses thanks to the solar irrigation system. Of course, you’ll need to keep track of the process for a couple of days until you adjust the settings perfectly, but after you’re all set with how the system works, you’ll be able to focus on other, more entertaining parts of gardening worry-free.

Solar-powered sheds

Do you want to take your gardening to a whole new level? If you want to turn your shed into a gardening heaven, you can still make the most out of solar panels. After all, the bigger your needs for electricity and the more you use solar power, the sooner you’ll notice the benefits and savings that come from using renewable energy. Of course, more serious steps require a more serious approach, so make sure to choose top quality. For instance, if you seek quality you can count on Skylight Energy, one of the leading providers of solar systems. It’s all about your needs, and these days, you can easily find someone to meet them.

Solar glazing

This is something that truly requires a bit more of initial investment, but if you plan to go big on your gardening and need a way to power the whole greenhouse, solar glazing is the perfect way to go about it. Essentially, this technology allows you to harvest the solar power straight from the windows. It’s still quite a new concept on the solar energy market, but the efficiency and functionality of it all is bound to make it one of the most popular trends in the world of renewable energy and gardening.

When it comes to installing solar panels, it’s important to do your research. The starting investment may put you off, but the long-term savings can be absolutely incredible. Of course, there are different options depending on what you need the energy for as well as the amount of energy your garden requires. However, combining solar power and gardening seems like a perfect fit so don’t hesitate to check your options and see whether you can benefit from such a change and help the environment along the way as well.

Robert ClaytonRobert Clayton is a blogger with a degree in engineering based in Sydney. His interests and passions include DIY, green technologies and home improvement. He also loves good food, music, dogs and enjoys spending time by the ocean. He’s a regular contributor for Smooth Decorator, An Australian Home improvement website.

Birds, Conservation, Current Issues, Gardening, Guest Posts, Organic, Sustainable Living

In today’s fragile natural world, where we’re constantly facing the negative impact of previous and ongoing environmental damage, building and maintaining a sustainable garden simply makes sense.

Whether you’re looking to add one or two sustainable features into your small backyard, or you’re thinking of starting a large-scale project to make your garden an eco-friendly, bio-diverse habitat, there are plenty of features and elements you can incorporate into your outdoor space to make it more earth-friendly – no matter your budget or the size of your space.

In today’s post, we’re considering everything from bird feeders and vegetable patches to ‘green roofs’ and the materials you can use to create your summer decking, to help you discover different ways you can maximise the sustainability of your garden space.

sustainable garden design

Build sustainably

If you’re thinking of building your sustainable garden from scratch, then there are a whole host of things to consider before you do. Firstly, think about new, innovative and long-term ways that your outside area could help the environment and those living in it, such as by installing a ‘green roof’.

A green roof can either be built on top of your home or a shed at the bottom of your garden, or to liven up your bland and boring garage roof. Partially or completely covered with shrubbery, not only do green roofs attract an assortment of wildlife to them, but, because of their ability to absorb large amounts of rainwater, they also provide an eco-friendly insulating element to the interior they are installed on top of.

If you’re looking to build a structure from scratch, make use of innately sustainable building methods, such as modular construction – as this way, you’ll reduce the environmental impact from the offset and can benefit from in-built features like grey water recycling and renewable energy systems.

Cultivate your own vegetables

There’s nothing better than being at one with nature – and particularly within the comfort of your own home and garden. A vegetable patch makes this possible, while remaining sustainable and adding an element of fun in the process.

Growing your own food is a guaranteed way to reduce your carbon footprint, as the distance your food travels to the shop – which you then drive to to buy – is all reduced by the simple act of you stepping out your back door, and pulling out a homegrown vegetable, fruit or herb from your self-built patch. With so many different types of plant beds to choose from, regardless of the size of your space, you are sure to find a way to incorporate a vegetable patch into your garden that suits both the needs of your family and the environment you’re working with.

Create a biodiverse haven

Another vital ingredient when it comes to creating a sustainable garden is creating a space that attracts and provides resources for the wildlife that inhabits it.

Invite bugs and birds into your garden by choosing plants aimed at encouraging biodiversity, installing water baths and hanging up bird feeders from trees and sheds. Choose a range of plant climbers and shrubs that consist of a healthy mix of fruit, pollen and nectar to encourage bees and birds to feed alongside each other. In addition, consider putting up ivy either around a shed or across the corners of your outdoor area, to give a variety of wildlife – such as bugs and even small mammals – a place to shelter from the elements.

Use what you’ve got

One of the most important things to remember when creating a sustainable garden – either from scratch or when incorporating a few eco-friendly features into your space – is to make sure that the materials you’re using are as environmentally friendly as possible.

Recycled wood can allow you to create beautiful outdoor decking that lets you enjoy the wildlife in your garden – and natural resources such as collected rainwater will allow you to harvest crops from your new vegetable patch. Additionally, don’t let your food waste go to waste. Create an area in your garden where your leftover dinners can be put to good use by composting them so they can be used in the future, to fertilise your new and flourishing sustainable garden.

sustainable gardens

Complying to, and encouraging, the general practice of sustainable living isn’t a hard task. From adding small-scale features into your existing garden that encourage wildlife to thrive, to building a sustainable garden from the ground up (literally), an eco-friendly exterior will not only reduce your carbon footprint but, because of its lush greenery and abundant wildlife, will look undeniably stunning, too.

Alex Jones is a content creator for Elements Europe, an industry-leading offsite construction company specialising in sustainable modular building systems, and part of the Pickstock Group.

Current Issues, Megan, Sustainable Living, Watering

Reducing the resources that go into your garden will not only help the environment but help you save money. By taking some simple steps, you can work your way towards a zero waste garden which will be cheaper, healthier and easier on the planet!

Plants

The plants you choose to grow in your garden have a significant impact on your garden waste. Choosing appropriate plants and optimising their placement in your garden will use fewer resources, reduce waste as well as help with pest resistance.

Zero Waste Garden - UK Wild Flowers

Natives

Native plants are that occur naturally have existed for many years in a given area. They offer the most sustainable habitat for local wildlife and are perfectly equipped to live in the local climate. Plants native to the UK include:

  • Juniper
  • Strawberry tree
  • Crab apple
  • Field maple
  • Rowan
  • Field rose
  • Dwarf willow

The RHS has an extensive list of trees and shrubs native to the UK on their website.

Plant Placement

When deciding where to plant specific species, it is important to take into consideration how much sunlight and shade your garden gets and when. Planting species in appropriate places to suit their needs will allow them to thrive to the best of their ability as well as reduce waste.

Going Organic

Eliminating the use of chemicals in your garden will stop the need for you to buy expensive herbicides, pesticides and fertilisers that are often sold in plastic packaging. Going organic will encourage you to take advantage of natural plant fertilisers that are most likely already hanging around your house, some examples being banana peel, coffee grounds and egg shells. And on top of it all, your plants will thank you for it!

Water

Here in the UK we are in the midst of a drought, and with hosepipe bans coming into force across the country, it’s a great time to change you approach of how you use water in your garden. Developing suitable watering practices and conserving water where you can will help you use water more efficiently. With global climate change having a direct affect on our weather, the pressure on clean water supplies is only going to increase so reducing water waste is as important as ever.

Zero Waste Garden

Rainwater Harvesting

Rainwater harvesting is the collection of rainwater and runoff for reuse in the garden or in the home. You can collect rainwater in a water butt connected to a downpipe. The rainwater collected is also better for your garden than hard tap water, which may leave limescale deposits or affect the ph of your soil.

Improving Soil Structure

Putting some effort into improving your soil structure will help it retain moisture. Adding organic matter, such as compost and manure, to your soil will bind particles into aggregates and improves its water holding capacity.

Preventing Overwatering

A lot of us water our gardens too much, which wastes water. Before watering your garden, feel the soil. Only water if the soil feels damp, or if your plants are starting to show signs of lacking water.

Timings

During hot weather, it is best to water your garden in the early morning or in the early evening. This will prevent water evaporating in the heat of the sun during the hotter hours of the day, thus saving water usage.

Watering Techniques

  • Sprinklers are best used to water larger areas such as lawns and unplanted areas
  • Hoses and watering cans are great for targeting specific areas such as the plant roots
  • Seep hoses are hoses containing holes, which allow for watering underground. They are best used to water rows of plants.

Compost & Mulch

Buying plastic packets of compost and mulch comes with lots of waste in the form of plastic packaging, which isn’t biodegradable or sustainable. You can make your own compost and mulch from waste you already accumulate in your house and garden, saving you money. Read our guide on how to compost to find out more on turning your kitchen waste into compost.

Zero Waste Garden - Mulch

You can make your own mulch by collecting leaves during autumn and winter, shredding them up with a lawn mower and storing into a ventilated container. To find out more about mulch, check out our complete guide on how to mulch.

If making your own compost and mulch is not an option, opt to buy in bulk. This will also save you a considerable amount of money in the long run.

With reducing waste being all the buzz at the moment it is the perfect time to get involved by working towards a zero waste garden!

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