How do we grow our trees and plants?
We believe that gardening should happen in harmony with nature and not work against it, and support growing systems like forest gardening and companion planting which enefit both gardener and garden inhabitants. We are especially concerned, as beekeepers, that gardens should help bees and other pollinators.
We try not to use any chemicals at all in our production, and if we ever need to for reasons of plant health, we’ll always choose ones that are registered for organic use or have minimal impact. Likewise with fertilisers – we use organic poultry manure pellets on our trees, and in our garden and container-grown stock we only use bonemeal, seaweed meal, wood ash and other natural fertilisers.
We are working towards using peat-free compost, but have struggled to get good results from the proprietary ones! For now, we choose reduced peat composts and those which contain peat from the most sustainable sources. Sometimes we are able to make up our own compost mixes.
We registered the land we planned to grow fruit trees on with SOPA in 2010, and went “in transition” to organic. Hit two snags – one was that as a perennial crop, the trees would need to be in the officially organic ground 3 years before we could call them organic, the other was that as you have to plant in new ground each year, we could never actually catch up as we sell trees under 18 months from planting! It was a costly exercise, which in 2012 we abandoned, and de-registered. This has not, however, changed the methods we use to produce our trees.
We would like to find a decent alternative to plastic pots, but are currently re-using and recycling them as far as possible. We recycle all our green waste on our own compost heaps and through the digestive systems of our hens; all glass, paper, card and recyclable plastic, if we can’t find a second, third or fourth use for it, is taken to the local recycling centre. We recycle boxes and packaging for plants and use recycled paper in the printer.
We welcome any further advice on reducing our environmental impact, or making a more positive one!