Eco Tips

Biodiversity and regenerative practices in the garden 

  • Don’t cut back all plants now autumn is here – especially those like teases and poppies, fennel, sedum and honesty. Their dry stems and heads can be things so beauty as well as being places for small insects to over winter or as seed source for birds. Goldfinches are partial to tease and lavender seeds.
  • Don’t cut back penstemon or hydrangeas as the old stems will protect the plants from potential frost damage. 
  • Don’t cut back autumn fruiting raspberries either:  leave these till the spring when pruning will encourage the growth of new canes for next  autumn. 
  • As roses come to the end of their flowering season, let them form hips which birds may then enjoy.
  • Do prune plants such as grape vines and wisteria. Save the prunings to either create basket-work supports for floppy plants or to supplement dead hedges. (See Count Down Actions 87 and 88).
  • If you haven’t got one, get a compost bin. This could be made using bamboo canes and chicken wire. To keep the compost extra warm, line the sides with flatten out cardboard boxes. You can also use cardboard or a piece of old carpet as a lid. For lots of compost bin ideas see: https://thearchitecturedesigns.com/diy-compost-bin-ideas-for-your-gardening/
  • Do cut back soggy or rotting plant matter and add to your compost bin.
  • Rake up leaves from lawns and either add to your compost bin or create a separate bin just for leaves – these will take a few years to decay but will produce leaf mould which can be used as compost for seeds. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=478
  • If you are pruning shrubs etc to keep them in shape, use the prunings to create a dead hedge. Larger branches can be used to create a log pile. Both of these will provide places of shelter and safety for wild life such as beetles, insects, frogs/ toads etc. 
  • If you have a bird feeder and/ or bird bath, take time to clean them regularly to guard against bacteria and viruses that might harm birds, and keep them topped up.
  • If you have an existing compost heap, now might be a good time to empty it and use the compost as a mulch around  fruit trees and bushes, roses etc, or to cover areas of bare earth. During the winter worlds and beetles will draw the compost down into the soil improving its structure and fertility. 
  • Avoid over digging the garden: regenerative soil management recommends avoid exposing the soil to the air which release lock away carbon dioxide, and rather that ground cover should be maintained over the soil in the form of planting (even if it is a just an annual crop such as lambs lettuce) or a layer of compost.
  • If you are planning which vegetables to grow next year, consider mixing plants up, with intercropping and companion planting. https://emotionallandscapes.weebly.com/regenerative-agriculture/basic-techniques-of-organic-farming-intercropping-and-companion-planting 
  • You might like to consider growing perennial vegetables.

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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