We’ve been sheep shearing here on the farm this week. All the wool is rolled and bagged ready to go to British Wool in Bradford. However, wool is not worth anything like it used to be years ago, wool clothing seems to have gone out of fashion. Maybe the care needed to keep your wool jumper looking it’s best in our hectic lives is just too much. Wool is in so many products, depending on the grade/quality of the fleece. From clothing and carpets to insulation in houses, a natural material in bed mattresses and a great slug repellent to name a few.
With an ever increasing awareness of our environment, the over use of plastics and looking to more natural alternatives, we would like to share with you some benefits of using wool in the garden that you may want to try.
Pop a good clump of wool into the bottom of summer bedding pots (don’t forget to drop a bit of crock over the hole at the bottom before you add the wool, to stop the hole getting clogged). Wool is like a sponge and holds loads of water, meaning you won’t have to water your plants as much in hot weather, great for when you go on holiday. Plus if the wool is from the rear of the sheep, it may have some extra benefits, sheep poo is full of trace elements and nutrients perfect for your flowering plants (don’t add too much just a small piece will be enough).
Now you’ve sorted underneath, wool works as a great mulch in pots or for plants in the ground. Don’t cover such a thick mulch if your plant is loved by slugs, as this provides a wonderful underground shelter until dusk, when they rampage through your borders!!!
If you have plants that slugs like to munch on, Dahlias, Delphiniums, Lupin, Stocks, Zinnias to name a few. Then wool is great at stopping them eating away those new shoots. Unlike a thick mulch to hold moisture in. Pull the wool apart so you have a really thin mat that you can see the soil through (you should be able to see all the individual fibres, you can go even thinner than the picture above). Wool fibres are barbed when pulled apart like this, the barbs are similar to us trying to crawl across barbed wire, slugs really don’t like it. Keep the wool in good contact with the soil so they can’t sneak under.
Don’t buy the plastic toppers for canes, wool wrapped around canes/sticks that support plants, stops people poking themselves in the eye and the nesting birds love pinching bits for their nests, which in turn brings birds into the garden to eat all the greenfly!!
If you can find a local farmer who has sheep ,ask them if you can take the clippings from the sheep’s behinds. We clip out our sheeps behinds before clipping, normally April/May time to keep flies/maggots away from the sheep. We call this part of the wool doddings, but it may be called something else in your area. Fill a tub with the dirty wool and top up with water. Leave to brew!!! Its’ the same idea as making a nettle tea but doesn’t smell as offensive. (You can, if you are feeling brave collect sheep poo from the field, pop it into an old pair of tights, drop it into a bucket of water and leave for a week). You want to add a few cupfuls to a watering can (it should look like really weak tea). Rich in nitrogen, potash, potassium and trace elements it’s perfect. Reduces your plastic too as you aren’t buying bags of granule feed or bottles of tomato feed.
Finally this one’s a recent discovery this year. We make these on our Creative Times Together days. Wool balls slightly felted make great dryer balls. Pop at least 3 of them in your dryer, add some essential oils, if you want your washing to smell of your favourite scent. It reduces your drying time by wicking away the moisture into the balls and as the balls bounce around the dryer in between your clothes, this aerates and aids drying.