A compost bin

Gourmet Gardener: Down to earth ideas

- Tara Kate Linnane -

We are well and truly on our way to the winter season in the garden. The ochre coloured foliage is continuing to drop, revealing the bare silhouettes of trees in the landscape. Some take this time to pack up their tools and move indoors, others get a head start by sowing spring crops.

Whatever route taken, there is an onus on us to ensure we are carrying out every task as sustainably as possible. Improving even one area in our lives can help the overall cause of sustainability.

Source a veg box

A simple place to start with is food. Many of us lose touch with seasonal food as almost all fruits and vegetables are available to buy in supermarkets throughout the year. Eating seasonally requires a shift in the way we think and a little bit of effort in the form of meal planning.

If you are not growing some of your own seasonal produce, the next best thing is to source a local veg box. This way you will be able to have seasonal food without even thinking about it. If something is in season, you will more than likely find it in the veg box. Locally grown food has no air miles, generally less plastic is used for packaging, and supporting local growers is always a good thing.

Making and using compost is the cornerstone of gardening, especially organic gardening. The finished product is rich, dark, crumbly and full of nutrients. It is made of recycled garden and kitchen waste, and can also include paper products.

It is used to feed and condition the soil and in making potting mixes. While we all should be living by the principle of buying less, in this case I would advocate getting yourself a compost bin to help you in the process of making garden gold.

Compost heaps may be suitable for larger gardens but for most of us that is not realistic, so an alternative is to buy a compost bin. They are filled from the top and once full, the activity inside will decompose the material, allowing you to access the end product from the bottom. There are different sizes and they are widely available in garden centres and hardware shops.

Collecting and reusing rainwater is a great, sustainable practice that we all should try to do more of in our gardens. There are many techniques, including diverting rainwater from a shed roof, down a drainpipe into vessels such as a water butt.

Water butts are widely available and you can find them in a range of sizes to suit any area, including slim fit!

Essentially they are vessels and If you want to save money and the environment, you can convert a wheelie bin into a water butt. Reusing grey water (from baths, showers, washing dishes) is a great way of getting to use water a second time.

I use this method for watering my indoor plants. Household soaps are not harmful to plants, but if the water has been contaminated with bleach or dishwater salts, stay away from using it on plants.

Small changes make a big difference and they are simple things we can all do. So start by looking to see where your food is from and source your local veg box (contact me for details on the Cavan local veg box).


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.


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