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Low Input Gardening

Recently we worked with Bristol Waste on their Waste Nothing campaign, supporting the families taking part in the Waste Nothing campaign to learn some gardening and food growing skills. The aim of the campaign is to cut these families waste collections , not just of waste going to landfill but also cut down the amount going to recycling, especially of single use plastics. You can learn more about the campaign here.

The aim of our afternoon with the families was to introduce them to some growing techniques and talk about what sustainable gardening looks like. Most of the families have some experience of growing so we chatted about lots of things that we think might be interesting to everyone. We are super aware that whilst we all assume gardening is green, it really can be absolutely the opposite and we wanted to work through that with the families so they were confident moving forwards.

We began by talking about plastics and as we recently wrote a blog about this, we won’t repeat ourselves but we will just reiterate that Bristol Waste are not recycling any plant pots so the best thing to do is recycle them yourself by growing plants in them, or giving them away to community gardens, groups or schools where you know they will get used. Our blog about plastic use is here

We also spoke about compost. All the families have been given wormeries as part of the campaign but we would always suggest a compost heap of some type as wormeries will provide a very limited amount of compost. There are lots of compost bins available to buy, from the plastic dalek type to some very plush numbers that ensure your heap heats up fast, producing compost faster than a standard heap. You can also make your own with pallets and soon we will be, we hope, supporting better composting through workshops and a project we are working on with some UWE students who are looking at ways to heat your heap that are both sustainable and affordable. In the mean time we will shortly be putting together a blog on how to get the best from your heap as we believe it’s a vital part of creating a circular system in the garden. However, most people struggle to make enough compost and have to purchase some, whether it’s for seed sowing, containers or as a soil conditioner. We would urge everyone to ensure the compost they are using is peat free, and therefore not taking peat out of our precious peatfields that are the UK’s equivalent to rain forests in that they capture carbon and support rare and endangered flora and fauna. We use either SylvaGrow or Dalefoot Compost. 

We are aware that some people are keen to garden in line with vegan principles and in that case there is a product called Fertile Fibre which is certified as a vegan product

Away from plastic we spoke about buying plants. Many large garden centre groups buy plants in from abroad, despite there being a healthy local supply of plants to access. When these plants come in there is no knowing what they might have been sprayed with, whether they could be harmful to bees and other pollinators or even if they will survive in our climate. Shortly we will put together a list of nurseries and local garden centres that we support at Incredible Edible Bristol. And then of course there is the subject of seeds. The global seed market is run by 3/4 enormous organisations, interested only in profit and selling their product. In the last few years there has been an emergence of local, UK based. open pollinated seed growers and we would always suggest you buy from them first and support an industry that is working on creating seed sovereignty for the UK. For more information about seeds and seed sovereignty take a look at the Gaia Foundation, who are leading the work being done.

Of course saving our own seeds is also a vital part of creating circular economies within our gardens, and is something we can all do. There is loads of info about seed saving at the Real Seeds website.

For Incredible Edible Bristol a sustainable future where we can all share the skills we need to learn more about growing food, creating habitats for nature and supporting the creation of more edible landscapes is key to what we do. If you’d like any help or support to create a garden in a lost or unloved space in your community, where we can support you to create a healthier community, just get in touch!!

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