For Peat's Sake
We're at the harvesting stage in the gardening year now, but that doesn't mean we are not still planting.
Our peas and courgettes have grown a treat this year, and we are quietly proud of our cucumbers and tomatoes too. Gardening, huh? It may be part of our work, but it's also how we relax in the evenings and weekends. Here's a questions for you:
Which is better
to eat something you picked from your garden only moments before, or
to give home-grown veg to a friend
It's not just the plants themselves that we love looking at (honestly, it sometimes feels like having dozens of babies to look after. We just want to go out and check on them all the time), we also love seeing the insects and bees. Look at this little beauty on one of our squash's leaves.
In between the joy of picking, we have been getting quite a ridiculous amount of pleasure from planting things that would normally go to waste. It's not just packets of seeds that we plant.
We are currently experimenting with avocado stones and pips from lemons and limes.
We used three cocktail sticks to make a little tripod for our avocado stones, got them standing steady in a tub of water, with the water just touching the bottom of the stones. We are keeping the water topped up to that level and - fingers crossed - the stone should sprout in 5 - 8 weeks, at which point we will pop them in a pot and wait for a beautiful plant to appear.
The lemon and lime pips will go straight into a pot of compost and all being well we'll soon have a pretty plant with glorious smelling leaves.
Ah - compost.
It's essential to keep everything growing well, but as is so often the case all compost is not equal. We have made a commitment to use only peat free compost. In essence, that means we will use our own compost from the compost bin and will make good use of the compost available at our local recycling centre (made from the food waste the council collects).
But if we do need to buy a bag or two, we will be looking out for a peat free variety (and hoping it doesn't come at a hefty price).
Because of the chronic state of the country's peatlands.
And why should we be concerned about our peatlands?
Because they are a fantastic carbon sink, storing triple the amount of carbon stored in our forests (and we wouldn't countenance chopping down trees willy nilly, would we?). But it's not just the problem of using up the peat. As the peatlands are ripped apart, just so we can pot up our plants, they are actually releasing carbon into the atmosphere, therefore contributing to the climate crisis.
Some nurseries now advertise themselves as peat-free, including all National Trust plant shops, so it's something you might want to look out for if you go plant shopping. You may also be interested to know that the Chelsea Flower Show, running 21st - 26th September, will, this year be peat free.
So we're in good company :)
Switching to peat-free compost is another small but meaningful change you can make. But is it really small?
We were going to say that gardening centres and nurseries are big business in this country, but then we looked up the figures and the business is not big, it's MASSIVE.
According to a report into the economic impact of ornamental horticulture in the UK in 2018
there are an estimated 2000 garden centres and retail nurseries in the UK
more than two thirds of British adults visit a garden centre every year
the sector contributed an estimated £24.2billion to national GDP in 2017
and supported around 568,700 jobs (equivalent to 1 in every 62 jobs!)
UK households collectively spend around £7.5 billion on garden goods
When you think that we can change the way nurseries and garden centres are run by choosing where to spend our money, you can see that we really do have power to instigate a huge change.
We'll finish off today by passing on a favourite recipe of ours that has been well-used given the amount of courgettes we managed to grow.
Creamy Courgette Risotto
This is a lovely, fresh dish, just right for this time of year. We suspect you could serve it to those who say they don't like courgettes and they wouldn't be able to tell you what they were eating!