#PlotToPlateChallenge2021 this week a garden bagel with radish, nasturtium and edible flowers.

Connecting style with sustainability in your garden

The pandemic has had both positive and negative consequences for the environment. We have all made sacrifices for the greater good and it has left us slightly fragile with a different outlook on life.

The last year we all have had great opportunities to slow down and take time to enjoy our surroundings. What this has led to, I feel, is a greater appreciation for our gardens and outdoor spaces. These spaces are now viewed as a place to retreat.

As we slowly emerge from an unprecedented experience together, one thing that people are taking away, is a new found love for all things green.

The interest for growing your own food and gardening in general has exploded, and this I feel is not a trend – it is a new way of living.

Taking whatever space you may have and turning it into a biodiverse, productive area is the way forward.

The definition of sustainability is ‘the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. The concept of designing for nature and for the future in your own garden can seem like a daunting thought, but if everyone made a few changes in their lives, collectively we would achieve a lot more.

Taking this concept and our new passion for the outdoor spaces we have grown so fond of over the last year, we can imagine and create beautiful and magical gardens to be enjoyed by the birds, the bees and of course ourselves.

Here are some things to consider if you are embarking on a garden makeover in May.

Avoid chemicals

The first is an obvious one. Using chemicals in our domestic gardens can do damage. There are always alternative, more gentle, approaches to managing things like weeds and pests.

Spraying dandelions can be detrimental to bees as they are a rich source of food for them.

Commit to an organic gardening method and you can find the results are equally good if not better.

Look towards beneficial insects such as ladybirds to control pests and mulching to manage weeds.

Wildlife patch

Let the grass grow long and create habitats for wildlife. This sounds messy but if you let nature take its place, you will find wild flowers begin to appear. You can also sow your own native wildflowers.

If you mark out a no-mow area, you can use it as a feature and place a bench there so you can sit and enjoy the busy buzzing during the summer months.

Create a garden where pollinators are welcome to help combat the rapid depletion of habitats.

If you are adventurous, you can even add a green roof to your shed structure to offer even more space for wildlife while looking attractive also.

Position your plants wisely

Think outside the box when it comes to positioning your edible plants. You can create beautiful edible borders using herbs and brassicas and salads.

Climbing beans can engulf a sunny wall with beautiful flowers before turning into edible pods.

Plant attractive nitrogen fixing plants such as lupines, which are beautiful and are important for the nitrogen cycle.

Sustainable design is quite comprehensive.

When you’re planning out your garden, think about the different plants you want to grow. The shadow-loving plants should be planted in the shade of tall, lush plants where they get plenty of shade.

Plants that love the sun should be planted in sunny areas, where they can enjoy themselves.

Plants that crave water should be planted in moist areas of your garden so they remain healthy with minimal care.

By planning all these points out in advance, you can conserve plenty of resources while nourishing a good, healthy garden.

Make sure to celebrate our native species when creating your plant list.

Make and use your own compost

Recycling of your food and other natural waste is a key principle of sustainable gardening. This waste can be turned into a great soil conditioner over time.

Instead of throwing away your dead leaves, flower heads, and grass clippings, you can compost them into nutrient-rich, organic fertiliser for your garden.

This will make your soil richer and your produce healthier and more delicious. In fact, making your own compost is crucial both for organic gardening and for sustainable living.

When you compost food scraps, garden waste, and other biodegradable materials at home, you will reduce waste, getting you closer to living a zero-waste lifestyle.

Collect rainwater

Where we live we are blessed with rain, so take advantage of it by collecting rainwater in a large vessel. The water can supplement watering your vegetable patch where possible. You can purchase rainwater butts in almost any size to suit your garden.

Our goal should be to use as many natural and recycled resources as possible and in doing so we can combine sustainability with a beautiful stylish garden to enjoy.

Timely tips for the garden

• Pinch out tomato side shoots and you can create new plants by rooting them in water.

• As the night time temperature is still dropping low it is important to give extra protection to anything tender. I would also hold off planting any crops outdoors yet until we are safe from frost.

• You can sow a wildflower patch now to enjoy a colourful display of annuals in August / September.

• Keep sowing your salads every few weeks so you have a consistent supply.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

• Tara Kate Linnane is passionate about sustainability and growing all things edible. Together with her husband Barry, she has embarked on a journey of designing edible spaces and getting others started on their gardening adventures.

Follow their journey on Instagram @twopeas_inapolytunnel or visit thefoodscapedesignco.com to make contact for information.

You can email your questions to tarakatelinnane89@gmail.com

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