2/04/2015

The Things I Need ~ Ray Lovegrove

With me, it’s often hard to say where loving simplicity starts and being an ‘old skinflint’ ends. Voluntary simplicity certainly has an impact, however small, on the environment, but much of the everyday simplicity we adopt also saves money. Gardening, for instance, has undergone many changes in the last two decades and I for one resist the idea of the ‘instant garden’ where one visits the garden centre with a credit card, fills a trolley with potted up plants, then returns home and plants them for immediate effect. For me gardening is a slow process of continued planning and development, after thirty years you might just be getting close to the garden of your dreams. Your ‘relationship’ with your garden is made much stronger if the plants have been raised from seed, or from cuttings or been given to you by family and friends.

At this time of year you can get plants for free just by keeping your eyes open and never going for a walk without a trowel and a plastic bag. You might even find useful plants in your own garden. The place to look is near fruit and nut trees. Fruit and nuts fall from trees in the late summer and autumn and young trees, or saplings, are usually spotted about in the winter of the following year. These small trees can be uprooted while dormant and potted up to grow on. Don’t worry about depleting supplies, young saplings that grow too close to the parent tree are doomed if you don’t rescue them. Hazelnut, walnut, chestnut, oak, beech, birch, hawthorn, willow, maple, holly, apple, pear, plum, cherry, black currant and gooseberry can all be found this time of year.

(C) K and R Lovegrove

Your biggest problem may be identifying your young trees, but it's not as difficult as you might think if you use a good identification guide. It's worth pointing out that birds and squirrels are good at planting seeds a little distance away from the parent tree (you may have noticed birds carrying cherries away to a nearby tree to devour them), so just keep your eyes open.

I find it easy to lift young saplings late on a sunny afternoon following a heavy overnight frost, apart from wrapping the roots up quickly to avoid them getting a touch of frost or drying out, the replanting can take place within a week or so. It's probably best to plant them in pots for the first year and plant them in a permanent home the next autumn.

A few words of warning! Don’t get yourself into trouble by trespassing to collect your saplings, if you are on private ground ask first. If you grow apples, pears and plums from saplings be warned that you might have a very long wait for fruit from your trees and it is unlikely to be the same variety, or the same size as the parent. Most modern apples are grown on ‘dwarfing rootstock’ whereas saplings from dropped fruit will grow into very large full size trees.

(C) K and R Lovegrove


Some things you might like to do with your saplings eventually;

·         Use young hazel and hawthorn top repair gaps in hedges, or if you have enough aim to replace fences in your garden with free natural hedging!

·         Make unused corners of your garden into wildlife friendly areas. A hazelnut, cherry or crab-apple tree will bring more insects, birds and small mammals into your garden than you could ever imagine.

·         Keep the plants in pots and donate them to local charity events for sale. Label them well!

·         You might like to try some guerilla gardening by planting your saplings where you expect them to thrive on unused public land.

Increase the amount of food you produce by planting some productive trees in your lawn.

~Q~

The Johnny Appleseed Blessing

“Oh, the Lord is good to me,
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need
The sun, and the rain, and the apple seed.
The Lord is good to me.”

~Q~


(C) K and R Lovegrove


The cotoneaster above grown from a sapling rescued from a car park.




To find out more about simple growing click here.

If you have no land to grow crops, but still want to produce your own food click here.

For some ideas on cooking what you grow click here.

And to provide some ideas for simple eating click here.

(C) Ray Lovegrove (aka 'Hay Quaker') 2015







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