New book guides gardeners through plastics maze

Fiona Thackeray.

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Tackling the use of plastics in gardens is a thorny issue but now a new book plots a path through the confusion, highlighting progress, revealing where problems lie and giving gardeners guidance and a wealth of practical ideas.

Plastic-free Gardening is the first guide of its kind, showing gardeners a way to cut back on plastics.

Written by Fiona Thackeray, head of operations with Trellis, Scotland’s therapeutic gardening charity, it includes tips and techniques on how to reduce or eradicate plastics as well as giving lists of stockists and suppliers for containers and equipment made from alternative materials.

It also provides up-to-date information on which plastics can and cannot be recycled and how the gardening industry and local authorities, which handle kerb-side collections are responding to the challenge.

It is a timely message for anyone who has ditched supermarket shopping bags and recycles drinks bottles and milk cartons, but who has been overwhelmed by the tide of containers, plant labels, tools and compost sacks that seem to be an inevitable part of gardening.

‘These are changing times and progress is being made towards replacing and recycling the plastics involved in gardening, but there is no one, clear answer to the problem,’ said Fiona.

Plastics have invaded every corner of the garden, and it’s not just pots – from the linings of foil seed packets to outdoor clothing, packaging for plant foods and fertilisers and in crop-protection materials such as fleece, cloches and polytunnels – plastics proliferate.

So in order to find out what can be done to meet the problem head-on, Fiona talked to scientists and experts about what’s being done to solve the issue and what new materials are coming on stream.

Fiona’s tips:

*   Switch to pots made from cornstarch, rice husks, bamboo, seaweed or some of the alternative materials that are now becoming available.

*   Choose garden tools with wooden handles.

*   Change what you grow for plants and crops that don’t need protection from fleece or other plastic products.

*   Opt for wooden garden furniture and storage and not synthetic alternatives.

*   Make your own fertiliser from seaweed, comfrey or nettles.