Monday, 7 June 2010

the ethics of hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are very popular at the moment. We have planted ours on a red and white theme this year to support our national team in the world cup! Others drive around with flags waving - our support is more reserved, and I would like to think, a little more tasteful!

Hanging baskets, although beautiful, do present a problem to the sustainable gardener.

First there is the issue of using a peat free compost. Most peat free composts do not retain moisture well enough and this is a problem in the contained environment of a hanging basket.

A second problem is that many hanging basket favourites e.g. surfinias are lovely to look at but are not useful to insects.

The plants we use in our hanging baskets are intensively produced in heated glasshouses needing high inputs of fertliser. That's problem number three.

Problem number four is that hanging baskets need our daily attention. In today's busy world, our hanging baskets can be easily forgotten - until too late!

A final problem is the water and fertiliser needed to keep a hanging basket flourishing throughout the season. Without copious water and fertliser, our hanging baskets look pale and thin. Should we be using fertiliser and our scarce water in this way?

How do we overcome that lot?!

This year I am trying out sedums in a hanging basket. It has been placed on the shed on our allotment and so I cannot water it regularly: it has to be low maintenance!

The potting compost is peat free.
The plants produce flowers that insects love. Sedums are easy to propagate and can be kept year on year.
And they don't need any watering or fertilising!

So far so good!

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