The Potting Bench Diaries – 1st March 2023

This week I thought that we could have a look at ‘alternatives’ – in terms of using something a little different to what we’d normally use and I’ll be sharing some suggestions for you to try, if you’d like to. For far too long now we’ve all been content with using huge brands and large companies without a ‘face’ and this year I’m really trying to be a little more conscious with what I buy, where I buy it from and how I buy it – starting with seeds!

As part of an effort to buy small and support some passionate individuals, this year I’m aiming to buy the majority of my seeds from companies just like that. Two that I’d like to highlight are Bishy Barnabees Cottage Garden and Queen Of Seed.

I posted on Instagram a couple of weeks ago about wanting to buy my seeds from small businesses this year and they both immediately reached out so I did some research on the varieties and now I’m growing more than I ever thought I would this year!

We don’t use a tremendous amount of chillies in our house, but enough to want to grow some each year and after last year’s bumper crop we had to do the same again this year. I’ve sown this over the weekend in some coir coins, which ideal for starting off chillies, tomatoes and an abundance of other fruit, veg and flowers.

These have been popped in the heated propagator (now there’s room after I’ve taken the Cobaea out) and they’ll stay there for a few weeks until I’ve got good germination. After that they’ll go into their own 9cm pots to grow on some more.

Coir is a growing medium that continues to go from strength to strength with most of us aiming to be that touch more sustainable (I use coir from Coir Products U.K.). After attending the Garden Press Event last week its clear that another material that could be on the increase is wool! Its no secret that wool is useful in many ways in the garden but there are some ingenious ways of using it that I’ve found out about recently. One such way is using it to create woollen pots that are natural, organic and will biodegrade over time. The ones I’m trying are from Wool Pots, which I received at the GPE last week to try at home. Not only are they sustainable, but I reckon they look rather nifty too. What do you think?

Keeping with wool for a moment, allow me to share with you – HortiWool. Another find from the Garden Press Event (lots of wool there this year!) but one that I think could be worth keeping your eyes on. HortiWool is a mat, crafted from wool – that can be used to line hanging baskets, troughs and pots of all sizes that benefits the plants in a number of ways.

Not only are they better than using plastic pot liners, the wool used to make these will add nutrients to the soil around your plants AND birds will happily peck at it and take it away to help create their nests. I’m quite excited to give this a try and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes in our garden.

And finally, another week and another unique guest on the podcast, in the form of Ben Cross. Ben, otherwise known as Alstroemeria Ben is a fourth generation flower grower based on the south coast of the UK who is utterly passionate about British grown flowers. Creator of the British Flowers Rock campaign Ben is a tireless advocate of supporting British growers in any way he can.

Take a listen to the episode now to hear some quite shocking statistics about the flowers you might see in the supermarket each week.

Ben is a returning guest on the podcast, having been on during season one – but the campaign rocks on and needs our support more than ever. There isn’t anyone quite like Ben and this is a conversation that I’m sure might make you think twice about just where your flowers are coming from and the impact that has

Disclaimer: WoolPots and HortiWool were given to me at the Garden Press Event with no obligation to review or write about them. No payment was given to endorse them and I am yet to put them to use in the garden. No other products mentioned in this post were given to me.

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