Are your houseplants environmentally friendly? | James Wong

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Keep your ‘plant miles’ down by following these tips on importing, greenhouse use and propogating

I have been getting loads of questions about the sustainability of houseplants recently. To me, it’s very encouraging that people are so interested in greening their indoors (in both senses of the word). Here is a quick run down on the environmental impact of houseplants, and how to shrink it as much as you can.

The major concern I hear is that the vast majority of houseplants sold in the UK are imported, racking up “plant miles” on their journey from the huge nurseries in the Netherlands. However, all you need do is look at a map to see that Holland is as close, if not closer, to many of us here in Britain than other parts of the UK. Secondly, these plants are transported here by road and ferry, which produces not only a fraction of the carbon emissions per mile of flying, but significantly less than smaller scale deliveries would generate from UK nurseries. If you are driving to your garden centre to buy houseplants, the emissions from your car will almost certainly be greater than the emissions generated in getting it from grower to garden centre. In fact, it is fair to say that in the production chain of houseplants, transport is one of the lowest sources of carbon emissions wherever you chose to source them from.

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Hungry birds and marauding moles create a sense of wonder

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Fill up the feeders, grab some binoculars and a guidebook, and watch as the tits, finches and blackbirds swoop in

Denmark, end of December. The constant sound of the sea, the smell of wood smoke and salt. The air is almost kippered. It’s the wettest winter since their records began. Flowering daisies in the long grass, dead leaves lie like damp leather. Confused new shoots everywhere.

The moles have been busy tunnelling under the mossy ‘lawn’. I shovel up 20 hills, barrow the sandy soil to the edges of the plot. The raked-up leaf will lie there, too. I will sow it with wild flower seed in early summer to join the wood anemone, hepatica, forget-me-not and campion that thrive in the more shadowy spaces.

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Ripe for change: growing your own food means always picking it at the right time

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

When my mother shopped for gourds, they were enormous – now when I pick them, they’re a little larger than a sharpie marker

Most commercial fruit is picked underripe. It is stored for weeks or months, then gassed when it’s ready to be freighted and stocked on shop shelves. While there are logistical benefits to this, it does not allow us to consume the produce at maximum nutrient density.

A delightful discovery of farming is learning the point of maturity that things can, and perhaps should, be harvested at. Farming means I don’t have to have my choices dictated by perishability in a supermarket.

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Which plants are the best bird feeders? | Alys Fowler

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Although I feed song birds with meal worms, suet and seeds, I’ve come to realise that my garden can do the job just as well

I was admiring the glorious orange limbs of my strawberry tree, Arbutus unedo, meandering elegantly and covered in bright red baubles of fruit among glossy green leaves, when I spotted a blackbird, its beak crammed full of a single fruit. I was contemplating preserving this year’s bounty of fruit, but the sight of that happy blackbird was enough to make me realise I didn’t need any more jam in my life. This tree is far more giving to all of us in the garden than I could have conceived when I planted it to obscure my neighbour’s shed.

Related: How to kill winter aphids and mealybugs | Alys Fowler

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Mocktails, terrariums and a new allotmenteer

BBC - Podcasts and Downloads - Gardeners' Corner -

In Gardeners' Corner this week, a makeover for the Italian garden at Mount Stewart, a new allotmenteer gets to grip with her plot at the Minnowburn, a browse through the seed catalogues with spring in mind, how to create the right conditions for plants in a terrarium and herbs for mocktails if dry January is your thing. That's all in Gardeners' Corner with David Maxwell this Saturday morning on BBC Radio Ulster and on BBC Sounds.

Nailsworth, Cotswolds

Gardeners' Question Time | BBC -

Peter Gibbs and the team are in Nailsworth, Cotswolds. Pippa Greenwood, Chris Beardshaw and Chris Thorogood answer the questoins. This week, te panellists offer ideas for a GP surgery garden, discuss the merits of a composting toilet and recommend winter flowers for bumblebees. Peter also visits neighbouring football team Forest Green Rovers to chat to Head Groundsman, Adam Witchell. Away from the questions, Peter and Pippa go for a walk to talk about winter wildlife. Producer: Dan Cocker Assistant Producer: Jemima Rathbone A Somethin' Else production for BBC Radio 4