Wakey Wakey

I feel like I should have a catchphrase to start my blog. Having read some of the gardening press this week Wakey Wakey, might be a good one to borrow. Thank You Billy Cotton.

This weeks Wakey Wakey award goes to gardening centre chain store Wyevale, who have woken up to the threat of global warming and are banning sales of outdoor gas fired patio heaters – a major waste of money, energy and carbon. They also say they’re banning non certified un-sustainable timber and phasing out 90% of peat products by 2009. We’ll see whether there claim to be carbon neutral by 2010 stacks up or whether this means cheating on their carbon emissions by paying to offset them (check out http://www.cheatneutral.com for a great satirical and informative website about carbon offsetting).

It will also be interesting to see whether they plan to phase out chemical fertilizers too. Most chemical fertilizers and pesticides use huge amounts of energy in their production and create plenty of carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions (nitrous oxide is a far more powerful global climate change gas). Wyevale‘s environmental consultant Dr Alan Knight would do well to read John Vidal’s piece in last weeks Saturday Guardian about Miracle-Gro boss’ Jim Hagedorn. John claims Jim has spotted a sales opportunity in global warming. Use more chemical products to keep plants healthy in periods of drought and save our traditional British gardens. But Jim the evidence doesn’t stack up. If you want to keep plants healthy in a drought use compost, mulches, grey water recycling, drip feed irrigation and green manures. Or chose plants that like dry conditions. The chemical companies are in a bind though. Their whole business model is under threat if gardeners learn natural gardening techniques that are simple, effective and free. (Check out – http://environment.guardian.co.uk/climatechange/story/0,,2078041,00.html for full story).

If you’re near a TV set this week watch BBC Gardeners World on Friday (BBC 2 8pm). Machynlleth’s own Dyfi Valley seed swap group is featured. A seed swap is a great way of sharing spare seeds, getting hold of some new varieties, learning from seed experts and getting together with your friends and neighbours to talk gardens and gardening. The BBC appearance couldn’t have been timed better. Next saturday (26th May) the Dyfi Valley Seed Savers group are hosting a Seedling Swap. Gardeners always have spare plants to give away at this time of year so if there are any gaps in your planting a seedling swap is a great way to fill them. Seed and seedling swaps are also good at encouraging local bio-diversity and maintaining seed stocks that do well in particular areas. I’ll be there too, with the local launch of my book The Organic Garden.

Speaking of which The Organic Garden gets a mention in The Guardian and The Times this weekend.

Other things to look out for – on June 2nd Peter Harper of CAT and I are going to be at the Hay Literary festival as part of the Gaia Co-operative stand.

And to coincide with World Environment Day on June 5th Sophie Marie Holdstock and I will be launching our first podcast through itunes, the CAT website and here. For those of you who haven’t discovered podcasts yet they’re just like radio shows but you download them instead of picking them up on your radio. They’re a great way of getting hold of information. I listen to several environmental podcasts on my ipod as I’m doing housework. It makes choring pass a lot quicker.

Most of the podcasts I’ve found our US based so Sophie and I are aiming to get together material more relevant to the UK. We’re going to bring a new podcast out every month with features from gardeners and other environmental experts living and working in the Dyfi Valley. The podcast will contain valuable information and offer help and advice from some of the most experienced people working in Britain today. We haven’t got a name for it yet but when we do I’ll tell you what its called and how you can get hold of it.

And it’s goodnight from me.

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