This April, those of us with gardens will be more appreciative of them than ever before. The current situation has largely confined us to quarters and our gardens are providing welcome space for us to enjoy some fresh air and appreciate nature. This will help us through this difficult time.
Regrettably we have had to take the decision to suspend garden waste collections until 24 April at least. Household Waste and Recycling Sites operated by East Sussex County Council have also been closed until further notice due to Government restrictions on social distancing. So, this month’s tips focus on making the most of the resources you have in the garden and minimising the need to export them as waste.
Let it lie
Try leaving the clippings in situ when you cut the grass. They are full of nitrogen and will rot down and help to feed your lawn. As they dry out a little you will find that birds use some of them to build their nests. Alternatively, you can rake up the clippings and use them as mulch around the base of plants. This mulch will benefit your plants thrice over by feeding them, suppressing weeds and retaining moisture, reducing the need to water in dry times.
Home composting brings many benefits. You can transform your own garden waste into valuable compost to nourish your soil and plants. It saves you having to dispose of this waste and means you need not buy (so much) compost. You will also be able to divert some food waste from your rubbish bin; e.g fruit and veg scraps, egg shells tea and coffee grounds can all be added to a compost bin. Spring is the perfect time of year to start a new bin or heap because the weather is warming up and this will speed up decomposition. Lots of information about composting successfully and where to buy bins is available in the following link: https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/environment/rubbishandrecycling/whatyoucando/composting/
There will be pruning to do at this time of year so try to find a space where you can heap up twigs and branches. They will provide a haven for an assortment of wildlife, including solitary bees that pollinate flowers early in the year, before the honey bees are up and running.
Keep feeding the birds if you can. They need lots of energy during the nesting season and will doubtless brighten up your day. Making life easier for wildlife helps us in the long run. The more diverse the population of plants and animals in our gardens the healthier and more robust they will be.
April is a time of preparation before the growing season really gets underway. Now is the time to be planting seeds indoors ready to plant out or move to the greenhouse when they are established and the risk of frost has passed. If you haven’t already bought (or saved) seeds, some supermarkets may still be stocking them, otherwise buy online as garden centres are currently closed. Do try and support your local shops during this tricky time if they have an online presence.
Being active in our gardens brings enormous benefits both physically and mentally. Whilst we are cooped up do make the most of your garden, not just to work in it, but to play and to chill out. Whether you are out in the garden getting your hands dirty or sitting on the doorstep catching a few rays of sunshine and listening to birdsong, please enjoy, stay safe, and stay home for now.