Recycling within the garden is at the heart of organic gardening. The display in the Gardens shows what can be recycled and how.
Taking responsibility for the waste products generated by home and garden, is crucial in the twenty-first century. Recycling means that you do not contribute to pollution and it can also save you money.
Compost is a dark, crumbly material which results from the breakdown of plant matter. Anything that was once alive is biodegradable and can be composted. The display shows the range of materials which can be used but also warns against those that are best avoided. Those include meat, fish and cooked foods which may attract vermin.
Composting is a simple process which can be done in any type or size of garden. Compost can be made very simply by making a heap on the ground, covering with black plastic or cardboard to avoid waterlogging and to insulate.
Most people use some kind of container to make compost, either simple, home-made structures, or purchased ones. The display shows a range of these, as well as different methods of making compost.
The finished product is perfect for digging-in. Healthy soil contains a whole community of microbes, which interact with plant roots and each other. Regular additions of compost nurture soil life, improve moisture retention and create a crumbly, workable soil structure. Home-made compost is also great for mulching and as an addition to potting compost.
The garden produces other materials which are not suitable for composting, but can be recycled in other ways.
- Autumn leaves can be made into leafmould, simply by stacking them for one year. This is an excellent soil-conditioner and can be used in potting mixes. It acts as a peat substitute, avoiding the destruction of valuable natural habitats under threat.
- Woody prunings that are too tough to compost can be shredded. The resulting woodchip is an excellent mulch. Or the prunings can be stacked in a corner of the garden to provide shelter for wildlife.
- Excess turf can be stacked and covered with black plastic, to make loam for potting compost.
Plants for fertility
You can grow some plants especially to improve the fertility of your garden. This reduces the need to buy-in materials and saves money!
- Alfalfa and sunflowers grow rapidly and are useful additions to the compost heap.
- Nettles and comfrey are great for composting too. Rotted-down in water, they are useful liquid feeds.
- Green manures protect the fragile soil surface and dug-in, provide nutrients and organic matter.
Your garden may not be large enough to supply all your needs. The display also shows materials you can buy-in, such as animal manures (from non-intensive sources), seaweed and municipal compost made by local authorities.
Mulches such as those shown in the display protect and feed the soil, smother weeds and retain moisture.
Original Design: Maggi Brown and Pauline Pears
Some, or all of the above text may have originally been published by HDRA/Garden Organic (www.gardenorganic.org.uk) and is reproduced here, with their kind permission.