It’s nesting time again

I was lucky with the weather on a recent trip down to Slimbridge.  I stopped on the canal for a walk.  The rooks were busy nesting already, they are always noisy and always on the move so I had fun with my camera.

According to Natural England, the official nesting season is February until August and it is recommended that vegetation works such as tree or hedge cutting should be done outside of the nesting season. The busiest time for nesting birds is from 1st March until 31st July and of course varies according to species, etc.

If you haven’t yet cut/trimmed that hedge then either don’t or have a careful look; get a cup of tea and watch it for a while.  Some of the pyracantha bushes in Stroud are full of sparrows chirping away but you’ll know if you’ve got them as they’re really loud.

I’ve been visiting more garden centres looking for peat-free and environmentally friendly products.  I’ve been going to the more commercial ones as some of the smaller nurseries are not yet open.  I’m disturbed by the attitude I’ve encountered in several of them.  Often the staff don’t know if the plants they are selling are grown in peat as they just buy them in or they think that you can’t grow good seeds or plants without peat and on occasions when I’ve asked about the environmental impact of using peat I’ve got some blank faces and not one person knew about the government targets.  If you get a chance to tell people why it is important please do.

In 2010 Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced a new target to phase out the use of peat compost in amateur gardens by 2020 but shied away from imposing a ban.  To me, it doesn’t look like there is much change in 10 years

If you’re not sure why we should go peat-free here’s a link to a short article which sums it up Why Peat Bogs are Important.  And if Monty Don can grow all his plants peat-free then we can too.

Alternatives to plastic are slowly appearing on the shelves.  The plants Natural England sell in their shops are beginning to be planted and grown in coir.  I dropped in at Pound Farm Shop on my way back from Gloucester last week, I picked up some Melcourt products which are peat-free and made in Tetbury.  They’ve got a lovely range of plants, so tempting but none of them peat-free, so I went looking for other products.  Their mini pots contain peat but they did have some dry coir planting plugs which I’m going to try out – I’ll keep you posted on how I get on.

A trip to Wilkos in Stroud proved interesting, they have peat-free compost and I got some to try, I’m going to be showing some of these products at our workshop on Saturday.  They sell a fibre pot at £1 for 12 which seem good value – it doesn’t say it’s peat-free but I’m pretty sure at that price it’s coir and cardboard – I’m waiting to hear back from them.  Even if you don’t buy from the dreaded Amazon it’s always a good place to search for products to see what is around Fibre Plant Pots

Recycling Plant pots and other things

I’m planting all my seeds in recycled containers.  The picture above is some sort of building material which I found when I was collecting/recycling some wood from a skip. I’m also planting seeds in cardboard toilet rolls, cut in half and put in the plastic trays that things like mushrooms come in.  I make holes in these for drainage before filling them with toilet roll halves and soil/compost.  I’m also trialling egg boxes. 
I’ve read lots of articles online which say this doesn’t work and that doesn’t work but quite frankly it seems to be all about how you manage them to stop them drying out or being too wet.  I’ve always had that problem with anything I use so I’m just going to grow a few extra ones.

The Castle Street Trial
I’ve made up 3 different soil/compost mixes and I’ve planted six different seeds in egg boxes using the different soils. They are now in the propagator covered in bubble wrap (recycled) to keep them warm.   I will report progress and will be talking about it at the workshop