Hello everyone! It’s been a cold week here in Belgium but the compensation has been some stunning blue skies against which the plants and bare tree branches look gorgeous.
My gardening activity has centred around sowing seeds indoors, and laying down some mulch outdoors. I can’t stress enough how valuable mulch is in improving the soil, retaining water all through the hot summer and doing a great job at keeping weeds down.
Old friends: my title in today’s round up is all about the invisible but incredibly valuable microbial life in our soil and plants, and in the air around us. As gardeners, we are immersed in this ecosystem just by being in our gardens, and it can do us a lot of good! I delved into the health benefits in this article I wrote for Radicle.
Microbes are our old friends because we coevolved with them as hunter gatherers, they became a part of us, living happily in our guts. But in modern times many people don’t get this crucial exposure to the microbiome in nature, and scientists believe this may be why so many of us suffer from immune disorders and allergies. One interesting finding for us gardeners is that we can create a rich microbiome in our garden by planting a wide variety of plant species, as the biodiversity of plant life will increase the biodiversity of microbial life. Researchers also suggest planting in layers so that you have vertical as well as horizontal plantings, echoing the layers found in a forest – from groundcover, to shrubs, to trees.
We are lucky to have a band of mature trees on the boundary of our garden, overhanging the terrace. As well as enhancing the microbial ecosystem, these trees attract plenty of other wildlife, including woodpeckers and our resident red squirrels. Not bad for a city garden – just goes to show you don’t need to live in glorious rural seclusion to have a garden teeming with life.
It’s still a little early for colour in the garden, but this window-box pot of Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’ and Crocus makes a vibrant splash on the terrace.
But spring is most definitely coming as far as the chickens are concerned. Laying has resumed, as has lots of early morning clucking. I hope our neighbours are also in tune with the diurnal rhythms. I personally find it much easier to get up earlier in the mornings when it’s lighter, how about you?
Seed sowing is also well underway now, here are my first batch of tomatoes sown. I have also started off aubergines, sweet peppers, chilli peppers and alpine strawberries. I have never tried strawberries from seed before, and am hoping that I can use them as edging in the allotment. All these seeds are indoors and being kept warm, they won’t be planted out until the risk of frost has passed.
And finally….drum roll….my newsletter project has finally launched! The Green Gardening Newsletter will be published monthly and will provide a mix of advice, inspiration and sustainable gardening news. There will be recommendations of podcasts, book reviews and links to other content, like articles and blog posts. Do sign up if this speaks to you. First one will go out tomorrow.
That’s all from me, but for more inspiring gardens and great gardening blogs, head over to Garden Ruminations, the home for Six on Saturday. Have a lovely weekend.