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Lisa Owens, from the University’s Grounds and Gardens team, has shared what her team have been getting up to around campus – from planting wild flower seeds to attract all kinds of wildlife, to planting vegetables and herbs! The Grounds and Gardens team are playing as essential role in safely keeping the University campuses maintained and tidy during lockdown…

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“The team have been very busy in the greenhouses for the past few months sowing seeds for the bedding plants and also vegetable, herbs and salad crops. We have constructed some new raised beds and have just finished planting them up. This year’s crop includes tomatoes, lettuce, beans, chard, broccoli, onion, peppers and kale. We have also been sowing our usual herb seeds and experimenting with some new ones too, these include thyme, sage, parsley, lemongrass, coriander and lots of different basils! Some of our flower beds this year will be used to create small ‘potager gardens’, which originated in France and contain a combination of herbs, fruit, flowers, vegetables and salads. This type of garden is not only ornamental with gorgeous flowers, but also serves a purpose to be productive. Planting in a potager garden can be arranged in an informal and relaxed way in groups rather than straight rows.

“The team have also been looking at ‘companion planting’ and the benefits it has on growing fruit and vegetables. Pairing different plants up can provide certain benefits to your crops, such as attracting beneficial insects or deterring harmful insects! For example, tomatoes like to be planted near basil, parsley or french marigolds, which helps deter garden pests from them. Chamomile is also known as a ‘plant doctor’ as it encourages other plants to increase production of essential oils which make their taste and smell stronger! This is particularly good for herbs such as rosemary and lavender.

“Another project the team have been carrying out is sowing lots more wild flower seeds around campus! We have now sown seed in at least seven different locations and they are starting to grow already. The seed mixes contain at least 20 wildflower species which will attract and provide food and habitats for many pollinating insects, small mammals, amphibians and birds!”

You can follow Lisa on Twitter for more updates and photos – @lisaUoCgardens.

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