Green Gardeners Guild Chat With: @gardening_in_the_shires

Welcome back to another edition of the Green Gardener’s Guild chats with our favourite gardeners in our community. We’re almost at the end of the year – and what a year it’s been for us all! Thankfully the weather hasn’t quite turned as chilly as we all fear for our gardens and for our slip-free wellies on all that ice – so there’s still time to get our gardens tidied up and ready for the incoming winter chill.

What better way to feel cosier than ever than a little catch-up with another Green Gardener?

Matt from gardening_in_the_shires shares his thoughts with Coco&Coir.

This time, we had a quick chat with gardening_in_the_shires on Instagram, with Matt kindly answering a few of our questions for us all about their gardening journey. As you will see from the photographs both here and on their Instagram channel, they have quite the new build garden that they have been hard at work transforming into their sustainable wildlife haven. Other budding wildlife gardeners listen up – and go check them out on their channel, too.

Enough from us, though – let’s get started and find out more about this wonderful garden. Take it away and tell us all about you and your beautiful green growing space, Matt!

“Our love of gardening began whilst we were based in Germany. We’d watch Gardeners’ World and meticulously try to replicate what we’d see in lavish gardens on our small balcony flat. The results were amazing from the start – we’d use old beer crates as plant pots and use ‘bags for life’ to plant carrots and potatoes. From there we caught the ‘gardening bug’ and started our quest on sustainable gardening.

We’ve been growing fruit and veg in the garden for around 10 years. We started off growing in a 1x3m balcony in Germany, and have since moved to a place where we’re fortunate enough to have a garden. It’s been a learning process and we try to garden as sustainably as possible, by recycling, upcycling etc. We’ve gone through a lot of trial and error but have really enjoyed the learning experience.”

Sustainable gardening is something that you all know we at Coco&Coir are passionate about, too. All of our coir gardening products were made for people just like Matt who want to move away from harmful peat-based composts, and want to get involved with a more environmentally friendly method of gardening. Switching to coir can help to achieve this – and we are delighted that Matt tried our Coco Boost. Check out their video reviewing their first Coco&Coir experience on Instagram.

gardening_in_the_shires wonderful garden assortment with Coco&Coir.

When we asked further about whether Matt believed they were sustainable gardeners, he said: “We consider ourselves sustainable gardeners. To the point that we try to avoid adding anything into our garden that has an attached carbon footprint. For example, we recently dug up the garden to replace tonnes of clay with organic matter (manure and homemade compost). It would have been a lot quicker and taken less of a toll on my back, to pay contractors to come in and do the work. Instead, to reduce the carbon footprint attached to the work, I did the whole thing with a shovel and some ‘elbow grease’. It took a while to do this, but the results have been great, and the process was completely self-contained.

Fortunately, we live near a stable, so I was able to cart the manure to the garden with a wheelbarrow and the excess clay got mixed in with compost for the front garden.

If I could give one tip on sustainability – it’d be to collect your rainwater if possible. This can be done in an old bucket, trough, water but etc. Nothing beats free water and the plants will thank you.”

Water conservation can be something that is often forgotten about in the journey towards sustainability outside of the warmer summer months. Water is a finite resource and one that we should be conscious about saving as best we can. Another tip that we can give on saving water once again involves coir – and for good reason! Coir is naturally super-absorbent, and its uniquely soft and fluffy texture helps to soak in water, staying moist for longer to provide plants’ roots with water for longer than other compost alternatives. Add perlite, vermiculite, sand, or other materials to change the texture as you need for your plants, easily. Coco Grow+ is coir with vermiculite already added for seedlings if that is your preferred mixture!

When we asked Matt what they typically use their gardening space for and what kind of gardeners they’d consider themselves to be, they said: “Our garden is split between being a growing space and a space to relax. We’ve tried to make the garden as functional as possible and there’s nothing more satisfying than heading out into the garden to pick some fruit and veg.

We’re absolutely daily gardeners. The benefits to being outdoors are huge for us, and we love watching the garden change daily. We also really enjoy watching the various wildlife in the garden. For the last couple of seasons we’ve had repeat visitors in the form of Blue tits, Robins and Pidgeons. Considering we’re year 3 in a new build garden…. We’re chuffed with their regular visits.”

For those who might be worried about using anything unnatural in their gardens that could be harmful for any little animal visitors or pets, fear not – coconut coir is 100% natural. The birds, cats, dogs, and more won’t be hurt when using our coir, especially as even our fertilised multipurpose Coco Boost compost uses nothing harmful to both the environment and animals.

gardening_in_the_shires wildlife-friendly small garden.

Matt was asked what their favourite thing about gardening was, which he replied in saying: “Without a doubt, most enjoyment comes from simply ‘being outside’. I still find it mind-blowing that a tiny seed can create a huge flower, that then produce more tiny seeds!”

For our last little question in our catch-up, we wanted to know which peat-free alternatives they might have tried before Coco&Coir, and we were delighted to hear: “We’ve been avid composters for many years and rarely have to buy shop bought compost. By recycling/composting our food waste and green waste, we’re able to ensure a good mulch each year whilst also topping up the raised beds. This year we have used Coco&Coir products to mulch a large area in our garden. So far the mulch has done a great job at protecting the roots from early frost and keeping the weeds at bay. This also comes with the added benefit of being sustainable, so win/win.”

A huge thank-you to Matt for sitting down with us to bring you all some fascinating insights into gardening_in_the_shires’ methods of tending to their garden and more. If you would like to share your story with the Green Gardeners Guild, get in touch – we’d love to share your experience, no matter how big or small!

Tune in for our next edition as we head into December – brrrrr! Coco&Coir over and out.