Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 606

3 0 J UNE 202 2 42 WEEKENDING Even the greenest of gardeners struggle to get rid of plastic. From seed trays to plant pots, bags of soil to bottles of fertiliser, it sneaks up everywhere. But there are dozens of easy switches we can all make – and there’s no better time to start. This month, millions of people all over the world will pledge to reduce their consumption tomark Plastic Free July – a campaign set up by the Plastic Free Foundation. “There’s somuch needless packaging in gardening but themajority of it is easy to avoid,” says Kate Jones, founder of My Plastic Free Home (@my_plastic_free_ home on Instagram). Kate beganmaking changes after her first child was born in 2018. “I wondered what kind of world I’d brought her into and wanted tomake it the best version it could possibly be for her,” she says. Now she has taken the fight outside. “Finding plastic-free compost can be a little tricky,” she concedes. “So I like to buy it in a bulk bag at the start of spring, which gets delivered loose to my home. I use a shovel tomove it straightaway – filling upmy borders, pots and veggie patch. I keep whatever is left in old flexi tubs in the shed.” This could also benefit allotment owners, says garden designer TomMassey (above right). “They could club together to purchase compost, grit or gravel in bulk that come without packaging,” he says. “Tackling the issue will take joined-up thinking.” Making your own compost helps improve your eco credentials. “Themain way to go green in the garden is to try and produce as much compost as we can in our own space,” says ecologically focused grower, forager and cook Poppy Okocha (above). Campaigners plant the seeds of change “That means rearing our own plants and creating our own compost.” As Poppy points out, growing plants from seed precludes the need to buy them in plastic pots. Plus, as Kate says, it’s good fun. “The process is so satisfying andmy children love watching everything grow,” she adds. Kate even grows her own loofahs, a type of gourd from the lu a plant, which, when fully ripened, can be peeled to reveal a fibrous centre. Theymake excellent kitchen sponges, reducing the need for plastic cleaning products. “I’ve been using them all my life, but only recently learned they came from plants,” she says. “It blew mymind!” Propagating house plants is another way to cut waste – and you don’t need a garden. “Pothos andmonstera are particularly easy, as you can just snip thembelow the node and place them in a jar of water,” explains Kate. “It’s beautiful watching them root and grow.” For those who are short of time, several mail order companies o er plug plants in paper. And it’s easy to find biodegradable pots for seedlings made frombamboo, coir or other plant fibres. Tom chose pots made from rice husks for his gold awardwinning Yeo Valley Organic Garden at last year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show. As well as limiting plastic use, organic gardeners refrain fromusing chemical pesticides, which invariably come in plastic spray bottles. Instead, Tom likes to let nature work its magic. “If you know a plant is susceptible to a certain type of insect, put a bird feeder near it, then the birds will pick o the insects for you. Encouraging beneficial predators helps keep down pests,” he says. Kate, meanwhile, makes an ecofriendly It’s Plastic Free July – time to find ways to cut packaging out of your plot. Lizzie Briggs gets some insider tips from horti experts