Make the most of your garden this National Allotment Week
Organised by The National Allotment Society (NAS), the theme for this year’s National Allotment Week is Plotting for the Future.
This means celebrating the contribution that allotments make towards a sustainable future – and we’re big fans of sustainability here at Feel Good.
To celebrate (and for those of us who don’t have an allotment), we’ve put together some of our favourite top tips for making your garden more sustainable.
Calling all green thumb owners and wildlife enthusiasts; this one’s for you!
Keeping the bees busy
In a recent blog, we talked about how to make your garden more attractive for bees.
It’s still our #1 tip for the garden, as research has found 97% of wildflower meadows have been lost.
Most bees are active between March and September, but some come out of hibernation early during milder winters.
Buff-tailed bee queens start to nest in the autumn to prepare a ‘winter colony’ so it’s good to have a couple of pollen or nectar-rich plants like honeysuckle or winter clematis.
You can also let your garden grow or designate an area especially for the bees, which will help provide nesting space.
Did you know the colour purple is the most vivid colour for bees? That’s why plants such as lavender, alliums, buddleja and catmint are perfect for attracting them.
You can grow your own way
Considering starting your own veggie patch?
For most veggies you’ll need plenty of sunlight with at least eight hours of direct sun each day.
Healthy soil is the key to growing a successful crop, so be sure to do a soil test to check the soil fertility and pH.
If you’re just starting out with your veggie garden, stick to a small plot so you’re not giving yourself too much work.
You can also make things easier by only choosing to grow four or five types of veg – and looking after them well. We know you might be tempted to grow anything and everything but take baby steps!
Introduce blooms that attract bees, butterflies, and ladybirds as this can boost crop pollination. Insect-friendly plants such as sweet alyssum, cosmos and sunflowers also help.
Newly seeded beds will need plenty of watering but established beds only need one or two inches of water per week. When it comes to feeding, only long-term veggies like tomatoes, squash or aubergine will thank you for a few doses of water-soluble organic food.
This will also encourage a bigger harvest. Fast growing cops like radishes and lettuce are low maintenance and tick along just fine if they have fertile soil.
Imagine how exciting it’ll be to serve up dinner with veggies from the garden!
Watch the birds roll up
Encourage birds to visit your garden with a bird feeder.
But not just any bird feeder!
You can make a sustainable feeder using your Feel Good toilet paper core.
If you’re looking for creative ways to keep the kids entertained during the summer holidays, this could be the activity for you.
What you’ll need
• Peanut butter, lard or suet
• Two long sticks or branches
• Bird seed
• Feel Good toilet paper core (the cardboard tube inside! But be sure not to waste your loo roll)
• A plate or board to assemble your feeder
1. Make two holes in one end of the paper core. They must be large enough for your sticks but make sure they’re secure.
2. Be sure to make the holes parallel so you can thread the sticks through easily.
3. Make two small holes opposite each other in the other end of the core and then cover the roll in peanut butter, lard or suet.
4. Once you’ve done that, roll (no pun intended) your Feel Good core in the birdseed so it sticks to the roll.
5. Thread the sticks through two of the holes, ensuring the roll is as central to the sticks as possible and use a piece of string for the other holes et voila! Your upcycled feeder is ready for the birds to enjoy!
Host a garden party
No, we don’t mean get the BBQ and Pimms out, we’re thinking more about a wildlife garden party!
If you opt for a garden fence that has gaps at the bottom, this allows for hedgehogs, frogs and other wildlife to go on a “garden crawl” and move from garden to garden.
As areas become more urbanised, it’s important to give the local wildlife a chance to explore and further support different habitats linking together.
If you’ve got any dog or cat food at home, you can leave some out for any visiting hedgehogs or even a shallow dish of water. You can even buy special food that’s tailored to hedgehogs.
If a hog visits your garden, you can log it on the Big Hedgehog Map and see where there have been other sightings.
Feel like doing some more DIY? You can create a mini frog pond, by upcycling an old washing up bowl. Frogs everywhere will be turning up to your garden for a pool party!
What you’ll need
• Washing up bowl
• Logs or bark
• Gravel or loose stones
• Spade (for digging!)
1. Dig a small hole in your chosen area of the garden and bury your washing up bowl so the top of it is level with the ground.
2. Place some logs or bark around the edges so it blends into your chosen spot.
3. Fill up the base with gravel
4. Place a small rock or an old tile in the bowl to provide an easy exit.
5. Fill up the bowl with rainwater and add pondweed.
6. Watch the frog hop on over!
Have you got any Feel Good tips for making your garden more sustainable?