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GREAT PICTURES ‘Evolution of land Plants’ Garden – University College Dublin .
Science for the Gardener Book PLANT EVOLUTION excerpts 1,2,3,4 .
CHARTERED INSTITUTE OF HORTICULTURE SCIENCE STATEMENT PRESIDENT STATEMENT PROF OWEN DOYLE 2017
2016.BILLIONS OF UNPAID WORKERS IN YOUR SOIL NEWS ITEM
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Plastic waste horror is world wide ,plastic armageddon has actually arrived in my view but lets be positive ,as a scientist I feel we should all actually try to do something to encourage and also monitor the good efforts many smaller and larger businesses are making to produce and use recyclable consumer materials such as this recyclable takeaway coffee mug that my hot drink arrived in this summer .The gardening industry ( The Horticultural Trades Association) in the UK is making a great effort to make plant pots more recyclable .
Here are some photos Ive taken simply of two recyclable coffee mugs I purchased at a typical sea side ( North Cornwall UK cafe in Widemouth Bay nr Bude) .This seaside cafe is one of probably many small businesses that are making the effort to contribute to reduce plastic pollution thats literally threatening to engulf us all over the world judging from the grim world news video reports. Many of us have seen the damage to all marine life especially when plastic is breaking down into damaging minute particles .!!.Genuine recyclable material must completely break down in U Nations monitoring view .
I buried the two cups in my garden 6 weeks ago and simply pulled back the soil after about 6 weeks .Guess what I found .Have a look a the photographic evidence below .
What will remain after 12 and 18 weeks ?
Your comments are welcome please by e mail on CONTACT or easier on the Facebook page .These are the the photos taken of the recyclable mugs but what about the protective lids !? I think the main mug material will be possibly a natural polymer such as cellulose or a potato -starch type or even bamboo is an interesting possibility . I am studying up the latest natural and non natural materials, however the two lids looked and felt like normal semi rigid polythene which takes a lot lot longer to deteriorate .
Recently this year The National Trust has used a potato starch wrapping to deliver members magazine and it looked very good to me as a subscriber . I say well done ,a great effort to have tried that out. I will ask it its likely to work out as a permanent wrapping .
See Editors note
As a Polymer science person who once specialised after graduating in Polymer technology and engineering and chemistry I hope this brief non -scientific experiment inspires us all in our society to put considerable pressure to make and buy recyclable materials. I think this little experiment shows a very simple but encouraging and interesting result of what can be achieved as the mug had virtually rotted away.!
More on recycling in the book Science for the Garden chapter Chapter 4 Plants for Industry and also A growing debate Chapter 12
Tony Arnold MCIHort Editor
December -January 2018 Gardener
Tony ArnoldMCIHORT www.scienceforthegardener.com
Author Scienceforthe Gardener
Secondary science recourse for RHS School gardening
Planning and refreshing – the exciting year ahead for your garden
How content and happy are you with your garden? What do you really want to achieve? Will a simple plan enable you to make changes and improvements and provide interesting ideas for thought and discussion? Was last year’s gardening experience up to your expectation? What plants did you enjoy looking at? Try and make a list looking back to those warmer months. Can you remember ideas you thought might motivate you to make those exciting changes you always wanted to? It’s not too late to make decisions for the coming gardening year so grab a pencil and paper and make a start.
List any structural and planting changes you’d like. Do you want to create more space? Do some raised beds need adding? Especially useful if growing tap root vegetables, the Umbelliferae (parsley) family eg carrots, parsnips, celery etc require depth which also helps to stop that surface resident the dreaded carrot fly. Drainage also improves hugely with a raised bed and you can add attractive and fragrant companion annual plants such as tagetes (marigolds) that many vegetable pests hate. Yes it does work!!
Be bold – get rid of poor and unsightly shrubs and plants that no longer contribute to your garden enjoyment. Add fragrance and attractive foliage and more colourful longer flowering spring and summer species. It’s worth having a look in a garden book/website/garden centres for ideas. The RHS website is helpful in describing a plant’s horticultural requirements. Spend time double checking plant labels to assist your planting decisions. ‘Buy me plant me now’ – garden centres can offer an instant seasonal pick-me-up plant for your gardens as well time to meet up with fellow gardeners to exchange ideas over a warming cuppa.
Quick planning priority list
Of vital importance your soil – Acid, Alkali or Neutral – try to do a pH check with an inexpensive testing kit. Take a small sample of soil, add some distilled water and shake then use the indicator to see what soil pH you have. If that’s a bit too time consuming look and see if you have acid loving (ericaceous) plants thriving such as Heather, Azaleas, Rhododendrons as that is a certain sign of a low pH acidic soil . Is your soil sandy or clay or is it nice and mixed and crumbly? Tip some into a jar and add water, shake up and you will see instantly the mixture you have stones, grit and sand sinking and clay and silt particle high up with some organic (composts) floating. Estimate visually your soil mixture. The ideal loam soil is an even mixture of (inorganic-non living) clay, sand, and fine silt and 10% (organic –living matter).
Add plenty of fresh organic matter (compost – manure – leaves or leaf mould) your plants will soon respond as this creates fresh nutrients, holds moisture and restricts weeds effectively. Some moderate slow release feeding will be welcome in March onwards, then moderate liquid feed when plants start to flower. Different vegetables will have their own feeding requirements, so do check first.
Plant for size, not just colour or fragrance – consider height AND width, and, so often omitted, spread and space occupied in full bloom as well as light and air circulation. Shrubs are small trees so plan and prune carefully.
Ground cover may also be just what you want in difficult planting areas. Climbers should give great pleasure and lift colour up above all the other plants and can be used for covering up unsightly objects.
Containers can be used successfully for bulbs, summer flowering bedding plants and annuals as well as specimen standard shrubs. Try some vegetables such as new potatoes in a deep container if you haven’t done so before, they taste superb. Containers can be moved around to achieve the best position, but do so before adding water as they become too heavy. Keep them well watered during hot weather and add water crystals before going away. They work well!!
What Action next
May I recommend spending a cold or gloomy day enjoying some relaxation and making a list of what improvements you would like to see. Next month I will suggest some plants that may be worth looking up in books or electronically that may guide you and quick ways to improve different soil.
Enjoy January planning and look after our wildlife, two and four legged.
Tony Arnold MCIHort