EXPLAINED: How to waste less in the garden

As you begin your big yard cleanup at the end of summer, think about what you could throw away.

Squeaky old tools, dull shears, debris from bedding plants and gluts of vegetables can all end up in the trash. Still, there are plenty of simple ways to avoid waste, if you think about it.

save the seed

You can save seeds from a plethora of vegetables, including green beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers and zucchini, enthuses seed expert Adam Alexander, whose new book The Seed Detective is being published. in September.

“Saving your own allows you to have seeds that adapt to local conditions, germinate faster and have greater viability and, most importantly, you know where they come from,” he says.

Many seeds can be pulled from mature, mature crops, cleaned and dried before being stored in an envelope and placed in an airtight Tupperware in a cool, dry place. Alexander advises people to choose open-pollinated varieties from which to extract seeds, as they will come back truer than the F1 hybrid types.

Share the gluts

Do not discard excess produce that you grow on a vegetable patch or in your vegetable patch at home. Share them with your family, neighbors and fellow gardeners who, in turn, may well trade what they have grown with you.

Storing edibles

If you’re short on people to give gluts to, save veggies by blanching and freezing them — you can do this with beans, peas, sweetcorn, and others. Chilies can also be frozen or dried, while zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant and onions can be made into ratatouille or layered into delicious vegetarian freezer lasagna.

Tomatoes can also be made into passata for freezing, while unripe green tomatoes are great for making chutney, which will keep for a year in a cool place, if the jar is properly sterilized and sealed. Overabundances of fruit can be made into jams and compotes, while apples and blackberries can be baked and frozen, to turn into pie fillings for a later date.

Maintain the tools

Instead of throwing your pruners and loppers in the shed, think about how you’ll maintain them, so they last for many more seasons. Clean spades, hoes, rakes, pitchforks and trowels with a stiff brush to remove dirt from the blade and handle, or hose down really muddy tools before drying them with an old towel. You can also oil tools with general purpose oil to keep them from rusting, although more modern stainless steel tools are less likely to rust, the RHS says.

After cleaning the blades with wire wool and spraying the mechanisms with WD40, sharpen the pruners with a diamond sharpener or sharpening steel. Some pruners can be disassembled to facilitate sharpening.

Let your lawn recover naturally from the drought and book your mower for maintenance, to make sure everything is in order next year.

Replace annuals with perennials

The environmental cost of annuals can be high considering the plastic pots still widely used by garden centers, plus shipping costs. Perennials, however, come back year after year, so you won’t have to replace them every year and you can save money while promoting more sustainable gardening. If you can’t live without your burst of colorful summer annuals, try growing them from seed, using homemade containers, like cardboard toilet paper rolls or biodegradable pots widely available in stores. garden centers.

Clean garden furniture

Some patio furniture, such as aluminum, weather-resistant wicker, or plastic sets, doesn’t require much maintenance during the winter, just a quick cleaning with soap and water before storing. However, wooden furniture is another story – even hardwood like teak will need a coat of protection from time to time if you want the original color to be retained, although good quality teak can survive with virtually no treatment for many years, according to the ERS.

Soft wood like pine, however, tends to be less expensive, and if you want to maintain it, it will need a coat of dry weather preservation stain or paint every year, and you will need to cover it during the cooler months to avoid moisture entering. It is also worth putting rubber or plastic feet on the legs to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.

make compost

Don’t throw away your green household trash, yard clippings and cardboard boxes, as you can turn them into rich organic matter, whether you opt for a regular compost bin with a lid, or an open pile topped with an old rug for retain heat.

However, it is important to find the right balance. The ERS recommends aiming for between 25-50% soft green waste – such as grass clippings, kitchen vegetable waste, annual weeds or manure, with the rest being woody brown materials, such as prunings, paper, cardboard, dead leaves or straw. Avoid letting grass clippings become dominant, as they can become a slimy mess on their own, advises the charity.

Use plant space in winter

So once you’ve harvested your summer and fall crops, don’t let your vegetable garden space go to waste. Kale, leeks and winter cabbage can all be grown on the plot, but if you don’t mind, sow green manures, which grow quickly and will return nutrients to the soil and improve its structure. Mustard sown before mid-September can be incorporated in October, while pasture rye can be sown from August to November, for spading the following spring. Winter beans and winter tares can also be sown in September for overwintering.

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