How to garden the low carbon way, by Sally Nex

In December we were lucky enough to welcome Sally Nex to Grayshott Gardeners.  Sally started her career as a journalist. Ten years ago her eyes were opened to the fact that some of the ways we garden are wreaking destruction on our planet, without us even being aware of it.  She vowed to try and stop that by making changes to the way she gardens, and by encouraging others to be more aware and do the same.

Private UK gardens make up 1 million acres, with more plants per square meter than rainforest – so it really does matter what you do in your own little patch.  They support thousands of species of insects, and are hugely valuable in the ecosystem services they provide.  They conserve water in drought, they prevent flooding, they keep us cool and they clean the air.  Which is a good start for gardens.

But can we go further?  Sally definitely thinks so, and she outlined some of the ways we can garden in a low carbon way.

For example, have a think about the way you use summer bedding – which has probably been raised in peat, sprayed with insecticides, fed with chemicals and delivered in single use plastic.  Could you buy it in peat free compost and pulp trays?  Or raise your own from seed? Or plant perennials in pots instead? Or abandon pots altogether and plant in the ground where the roots will sequester carbon.

Nearly all of the carbon in our gardens is held in the soil – No Dig is the easiest thing to do to make sure we do not release it.  Adding compost to return organic matter to the soil is important too. Switching to peat free compost, using organic rather than synthetic fertilizers and being vigilant about plastic use are all easy steps for the average gardener to take.

Sally’s primary message was “Every Little Helps”.  Do what you can, stay informed and be aware of the impact your actions are having.  We are all tiny cogs in that 1 million acre wheel.  And it was billions of tiny actions that got us into this mess, so billions of tiny actions can get us out of it.