Conserving with new plants | Love The Garden

Conserving with new plants

Geoff Hodge's picture
By Geoff Hodge, Botanical Expert (BSc, MCIHort)

The Bourne Conservation Group (BCG) is a group of volunteers based in the Bourne area of Farnham, Surrey. They help in the maintenance and improvement of the local area for the benefit of local residents and wildlife, including two community gardens and a churchyard.

Their practical work focusses on developing habitats for wildlife, while providing local residents with a pleasant, peaceful environment in which to relax. Over the last 2 years, they have been working to improve the range and quantity of plants that provide essential pollen and nectar for insects for as much of the year as possible.

Growing their own plants

At the same time, they have also been working to expand fundraising opportunities for the group’s activities. As a result, the BCG started a plant-growing initiative to produce locally-grown plants at as low a cost as possible to use in the group’s gardens as well as to sell at the local village show to raise group funds. Members join in by contributing suitable cuttings or divisions from their own gardens and growing them on in exchange for a group-funded bag of compost. They had a terrific result in their first year, raising a good sum from sales at the village show, but also expanding the planting in the community gardens at very little cost.

Bourne Conservation Group plant sales standBourne Conservation Group plant sales

Expanding their growing activities

Encouraged by the initial success, in 2013 they doubled the number of members participating in the growing scheme. They were further spurred on by our donation of peat-free Miracle-Gro Expand ’n Gro compost.

They surpassed their expectations with the turnout at this year’s summer show, despite the challenges that this year’s growing conditions posed. Showgoers commented on the quality and range of plants on offer and how good their display looked. Not only did they do well at the show, but they now have a substantial stock of plants with which to develop a large area of one of the community gardens.

Their aims in 2014 will be principally to get members growing again and to further increase takings to keep pace with the increased running costs for their expanding range of community projects.

Grower notes

The BCG growers had the following comments about using Miracle-Gro Expand ’n Gro.

They found the handling properties took a while to get used to, but once they had they found it excellent for growing a wide range of plants. It was brilliant for accurate, easy pricking out of seedlings and potting up was also much easier due to the texture of the compost. Plants seemed to thrive and quickly develop good root systems. The nutrients in the compost sustained the plants well. Spotting when to water was easy, due to the colour change in the coir from dark to light and the compost was easy to re-wet. It also didn’t seem to suffer from the shrinkage problems on drying that they've experienced with other composts.

To find out more about the Bourne Conservation Group visit their website.


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