Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 606

3 0 J UNE 202 2 43 Photography: Gabby Sweet, © Britt Willoughby Dyer, GAP Photos/Gary Smith, Tom Massey, GAP Photos/Heather Edwards, golibtolibov/ Getty Images aphid deterrent using soap and water. She grates a bar of natural soap into a jug of hot water, pours themixture into a reusable glass spray bottle, waits for it to cool, then spritzes it on the o ending insects. “It’s simple but really e ective, with no need for chemicals or plastic bottles,” she says. Instead of chemical fertilisers, which also often come highly packaged, she uses food waste to create plant food. “Bananas are rich in potassium and phosphorus which are great for roses, tomatoes and peppers,” says Kate, who steeps skins in a clean jar of water for several days. Once they’ve fermented a little, she dilutes the liquid withmore water and pours it over her plants. Once all the liquid has been used, remaining peels can be chopped up for the compost heap. Plants also thrive on old rice, pasta, and vegetable water. “Water used to rinse rice contains starch, which plants love. Vegetable water is great for them too, as it contains nutrients that are left behind,” explains Kate. Just make sure you don’t grow green Harvest your own loofahs from the lu a plant to avoid buying plastic sponges ( left); the water from steeped potassium-rich banana skins is great for feeding roses (below) salt the water and also let it cool completely before pouring on plants. Of course, sometimes using plastic is unavoidable. “When I do need to use it, I try to source on eBay or FacebookMarketplace so at least what’s already in existence gets used for as long as possible,” says Poppy. Kate also points out that many local garden centres have recycling stations, where people can drop o unwanted pots for others to pick up. It’s worth noting that while Kate strives to be plastic free, she’s not fanatical. “If there’s a plant that I desperately like and it comes in a plastic pot, I would buy it andmake sure I reuse the pot for something else. Still, trying to live a more plastic-free life has mademe somuchmore mindful of what I genuinely need,” she says. “And I’m muchmore appreciative of the simple joys in life.” Gardening is certainly one of them. For more information and to sign up for the challenge, go to plasticfreejuly.org TOP TIP While soil bags are widely nonrecyclable, many local authorities offer kerbside collections for unwanted pots, tubs and trays. Otherwise, you’ll need to take them to a specialist recycling point. Visit recyclenow.com to änd your nearest one PLASTIC IN NUMBERS The amount of plastic used every year in the UK, half of which is packaging 500 MILLION TONS The length of time it takes, on average, for single-use plastic to break down 450 YEARS The number of plastic pots thought to end up in landäll or incineration plants each year 500 MILLION The number of times plastic can be recycled, after which it becomes too åimsy to reuse 7-9 TIMES The amount of plastic estimated to enter our oceans every year 8 MILLION TONS potting for gold TomMassey used paper to transport seedlings (above) and rice husks for plant pots ( left) at the 2021 Chelsea Flower Show 5 SIMPLE SWITCHES • Swap seed trays for origami seedling pots Kate makes hers using old newspaper. Alternatively, use toilet roll tubes, which are great for seedlings with longer roots • Buy bare-root plants Trees, shrubs and roses can all be planted with no soil around their roots between November and March, precluding the need for plastic pots • Switch plastic plant labels for wooden or bamboo versions These will biodegrade naturally. Or, for something longer lasting, opt for slate or aluminium • Swap plastic cloches for glass They work just as well at protecting your plants from pests and harsh weather. They’re more expensive, but will last longer • Choose natural äbre twine made from jute, åax or hemp All are very strong but, unlike their plastic counterparts, will biodegrade at the end of their life