Hartley Magazine

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Share your eco-gardening tips with us & win!

This competition is now closed. Thank you to all who entered. The winners were: Terry Wells, Jon Knight, Rebecca Evans, David Morris & Wendy Collard.

We have five copies of John Walker’s latest book Digging Deep in the Garden: Book one (RRP £4.99) to give away, plus five £25 National Garden Gift Vouchers to be won in our easy-to-enter competition to find Britain’s most green and eco-friendly gardening tips.

John Walker
John Walker

Followers of John Walker’s ‘renewable gardening’ blog will know that his posts are often packed with tips and ideas to make our greenhouses and gardens more earth-friendly and in harmony with the natural world around us. From powering your greenhouse on free and renewable sunshine, to potting up dandelions  to attract pollinating insects, or using found materials to make simple nesting stations for wild, solitary bees, John’s posts encourage you to think outside the (gardening) box.

About the prizes

Digging Deep in the Garden: Book one is the first collection of John Walker’s thought-provoking and cage-rattling essays, which dig deep into the subsoil of gardening to explore its relationship with the natural world. John’s book is brain food for gardeners, no matter how green their fingers.

Your prize: John Walker's recent publication
Your prize: John Walker’s recent publication

It covers topics as diverse as celebrity ‘wobbles’ over climate change, the joy of ‘slow composting’, the need to power down our greenhouses, and how to feed your soil without resorting to heaps of steaming manure. Written in John’s engaging, often humorous style, one reviewer called it ‘an intelligent reminder of the joys and responsibilities of gardening’.

National Garden Gift Vouchers can be redeemed at over 2,000 garden centres and garden retail outlets nationwide. They are the perfect prize for anyone with a garden or allotment, who’s keen to turn their growing greener.

How to enter

Your prize: A £25 National Garden voucher

For your chance to win one of the five prize bundles, simply go to the ‘comments’ section below and tell us what you consider to be your most eco-friendly gardening tip. Give as much detail as possible, and explain how your tip benefits your garden (and the world around us). Perhaps you’ve built a greenhouse from scratch using recycled materials, found the perfect recipe for home-made peat-free compost, or devised an inventive way to harvest and store water on your plot. We want to hear all about it!

The five winning tips will be chosen by John Walker and published on this blog.

Note: You don’t need to sign up to enter; just type your tip into the comment box below, enter your name and email address (this will not be shared) and tick the ‘I’d rather post as a guest’ box.

Terms and conditions

  • This competition will run from 10am GMT on 1st March 2016 until 10am GMT on 30th March 2016. Any entries made after this time will not be considered.
  • There are five prizes in total, and each prize is made up of one £25 National Garden gift voucher, and one copy of John Walker’s book, Digging Deep in the Garden: Book One.
  • The lucky winners will be announced on social media no later than Midday on 31st March 2016, and will be selected by John Walker based upon the eco-friendly gardening tips they have supplied in the comments below. Hartley Botanic will contact the winners on the same day.
  • There will be five winners in total, and John Walker’s decision is final.
  • The competition is open to UK residents only.
  • Hartley Botanic reserves the right to publish the winner’s name and general location (i.e. city or county) on its website and on social media.
  • There are no cash alternatives to the prizes.
  • This competition is not open to employees of Hartley Botanic.
  • Entry to the competition is made through writing a comment on this blog post only. This comment should contain your best eco-friendly garden tip. You do not have to sign up to comment; you can post as a guest, making it extra easy to enter.
  • If a winner does not respond within 14 days of being contacted by us, the prize will be forfeited and Hartley Botanic will be within its rights to draw a new winner.
  • You may enter the competition as many times as you like; each tip must be unique from your other entries.


  • Digging Deep in the Garden: Book one (Earth-friendly Books, ISBN 9780993268335, paperback RRP £4.99) is available to purchase from Amazon
  • Wendy Collard

    We used some old recycled plants wood we had from an old bed to made a pot holder that we screwed to the wall, the pots sit on top and look great in the summer especially with trailing plants, makes a real pretty sight on a dull brick wall and avoids the slugs too!

  • Tania Atfield

    When I start growing my tomato, peppers and chillies from seed I use clean, empty yoghurt pots to save buying from the garden centre.

  • Hannah Cattell

    My main eco-friendly focus at the moment is providing nesting sites for bees, primarily solitary bees. There are many bee and bug hotels available on the market right now but a simple, sturdy wooden box filled with hollow stems, such as bamboo canes or herbaceous plant stems, will attract leaf cutter and masonry bees. You can also drill holes in fence posts or logs, just make sure that the hole diameters are in the range 2-8mm. If you’re planning on building your own home or a permanent garden structure then look out for specially designed bee bricks to incorporate into the external walls. Place these nest sites in sunny positions and you should be lucky enough to attract a variety of solitary bees into your garden.

  • David Morris

    As ecologists, the whole ethos of our garden is based around a love of plants, wildlife and the environment. We capture as much rainfall as possible using water butts attached to downpipes on buildings and greenhouses. The pure rain water is then used to provide ideal boggy conditions for my carnivorous plant collection (in an unheated greenhouse) along with charging up the pond and routine watering in the garden. With an increase in gardens and the wider countryside becoming ever concreted over, sustainable drainage is an issue that can have wider impacts such as increasing flooding. Capturing water via butts both saves water bills and the environment but here in the NW of England, rainfall events are becoming increasingly heavy and flashy. Deluges of rainfall in this way often overtops all the water storage we have in butts so to prevent sending it down the drain, Ive installed extra rainfall diverters (in addition to the ones taking it to butts) from downpipes to send additional rainfall into a range of SUDS. SUDS (sustainable urban drainage systems) allow water to naturally percolate away or be used in a ‘rain garden’. With an interest in carnivorous plants, my rain gardens are recycled old sinks that house carnivorous plants grown in a peat free growing medium. The excess water is diverted into them creating an attractive series of bog gardens that stop water going into the drainage system..

  • Jamie Stainton

    I like to use old upvc Windows let against straw bales to create a cheap and recycled cold frame for the winter. I found this keeps everything in the cold frame warm and cosy especially if you bloke the sides in with a little straw aswell. Plus always free upvc Windows in skips around my way

  • Nuala Christina

    Novice gardener but my tip would be to say some plantsort need time don’t get rid of plants if they look dead give it time they may come back

  • Rebecca Evans

    Hi. I generally think the best Eco tips for my garden is following my grandparents example and how they managed during the war years. Where my strawberries are concerned, simply being bothered to spend a little time reaps rewards. I used some old skirting board to make a box frame and tied on fine netting to the top and sides. I then threaded through a handle from a gift bag that was unusable, to the top and I have a lift off, easy access, weighted down, safety net for my favourite fruit! Nothings getting at my strawberries but me!

  • Rebecca Evans

    During the summer months when hose pipe bans are in place any water used in the household I reuse on the flower beds, shrubs and trees in the garden.

  • Lynn Gibbins

    Use aquarium gravel to dress garden pots to keep in the moisture. It comes in a stunning variety of colours.

  • Ellie Bromilow

    I know its not often wanted to be talked about but my tip is to pee on your compost! – firstly its so eco friendly as it saves all that processed drinking water being washed into our sewer system when you flush, you can do it discreetly by peeing in a little bucket and then tipping it on if you are worried someone might see you, but it makes your compost go into fifth gear and break down so much more quickly – you can get rid of all that animal bedding (straw) that takes ages to break down and have compost ready so much quicker – which means you can compost more even if you have just one small compost bin – and all of that in turn makes a far better garden! Not only that but if you mix your pee with water in your watering can and shower your lawn there is no need to be using all that weed and feed! – let the clover flower for the bees and just pull out dandelions and pop a little bit of salt on the tip of the root that is left – nature will show its appreciation for no more chemicals by sorting out your pests for you and making it less maintenance!

  • Lindsey Blackman

    I buy organic meat by post and I use the wool packaging they use to keep my meat cool , for slug deterent.Works a treat.

  • Charmian Filewood

    Use what you have before going out to buy more, ie wood can be made into planters, or edging for strawberries etc, some household items can make for quirky plant pots too, anything from old toys to broken ceramics

  • Gemma Louise Mason-Rogers

    Crumble egg shells and put them around seedlings will stop slugs eating them and they will not climb over sharp objects. Also add a couple of rhubarb leaves to some boiling water let it cool and put in spray bottle use as a greenfly, whitefly, blackfly spray, it works was told this by my grandfather who had a farm and grew fruit and veg on it. I have used it too when I have had a few large allotments in the past.

  • Christine Hall

    I love to show my grandson how to grow salad and vegetables in pots and tubs so they can go and pick their own. It teaches them how save money and grow organically as well as seeing the joy on their faces when they see how the seeds grow into Plants and produce some delicious food.

  • Darren Turpin

    My best eco-gardening tip is simple: keep a bucket by the kitchen sink and another in the bathroom during hot, dry weather. A lot of water gets wasted in small amounts – rinsing out a mug, washing salad leaves, running the shower until the hot water comes through, etc. – and a handy bucket can be used to capture as much of this fresh and highly re-usable water as possible. Once the buckets are full(ish) they can then be taken out to the garden and either tipped into a water butt (ideally one that’s separate from the rainwater system, to avoid any chemical contamination of the purer supply) or put straight into a watering can for immediate use. Less of the precious water supply wasted, more available for garden use – it’s a real win-win.

  • Maria P

    I use the empty kitchen rolls and toilet paper rolls filled with soil for my tomato and chili seeds instead of buying a plastic propagator. It works perfectly.

  • Jon ‘Jim’ll’ Knight

    Rather than burn woody prunings on winter bonfires, use them for staking plants the next year as they look more natural and are better for plants to cling to than canes. If you have too many/too big branches, dig a deep trench (two – three spits down at least) and line the bottom with the wood. This means that the carbon in the wood is sequestered into the soil as it slowly rots down, and the layer serves to trap moisture on sandy soils. This works especially well under beds that are going to have beans in if the woody layer is then covered with home made compost and soil mixed together.

  • Terry Wells

    Use your local Freecycle group. I have redeveloped our side garden almost entirely from free reused materials, pallets to make raised beds, paving slabs and bricks to make paths and small retaining walls. We also managed to get a greenhouse, with most of the glass, extra glass and plant pots also from Freecycle. The only bit we had to pay for was some mortar.

  • SusiB348

    Make veg seed go further, sowing easier and eliminate thinning out by using toilet roll (split into single ply) and water based glue like Gloy to make seed tapes. One parsnip seed on a dab of glue per sheet, then folded over longways while glue is wet. Easy, quick and a whole lot cheaper than the bought sort.. Can be prepared indoors, allow to dry thoroughly if storing, then are very quick to plant along the drill row.

  • jo orr

    We have lots of things we do in our garden & allotment to be eco friendly, from making plant markers from old flattened spoons to using old drinks bottles filled with water to hold down membrane to keep the weeds down