Seasonal vegan gardening – Spring ’24

As a complete amateur in the vegan gardening world, frequently overwhelmed by trying to maintain at least some semblance of order in our garden, I am starting to document some of our efforts in the hope that others might find it helpful!

Vegan Mum avatar
close up image of a wild garden with tiny violet flowers growing through the long green grass in the foreground, interspersed with small daisies and the odd buttercup. In the back ground, in front of a tree trunk, is some flowering cow parsley with white petals, and the tall stalks of ox eye daisies that have not yet come into flower

When we moved to a house with a beautifully manicured garden a few years ago, not only were we new to gardening on any sort of scale larger than a postage stamp, we were (and still are!) ethical vegans trying our best to be environmentally-friendly too. And we are still trying to find our way, but think that we have made some wonderful changes to our garden, transforming it into a more natural, wildlife-friendly space that sits amongst the over-cultivated fields of East Anglia’s farming industry.

Consequently, I have decided to use my website to start documenting our journey into vegan gardening and thought that I would use the seasons as a guide to writing it so that it doesn’t get too overwhelming (at least for me anyway)! So, this article looks at Spring and early Summer of 2024 in Vegan Mum’s garden and describes a little about our re-wilding project, what we are doing and growing, and products that I have found helpful, in case you find them helpful too.

The wild vegan garden

fallen rotting logs lying in long grass aith the white flowers of cow parsley to the left of them
Cow parsley growing amongst 2 rotting tree trunks

We have turned over more than 50% of our wraparound garden to re-wilding, using Rewilding Britain as a bit of a guide. With so much intensive farming around us in this part of the country, it felt like the right thing to do and we intervene in our re-wilded area only to remove bramble and nettles, to mow paths through and around it, and to introduce more native wildflowers where possible. If they were to ever come back here, I do wonder whether the previous owners would be horrified to see their beautifully manicured garden turned over to nature like this!

Anyway, over the years I have tried and tried to grow wildflowers in this area by sprinkling the numerous well-meaning seed combinations that you can buy onto areas of raked earth and watering them copiously, but with absolutely no success whatsoever. So, two years ago, I grew oxeye daisies from seed (that I bought from RHS) in seed trays in my cheap heated propagator that I dig out of the shed every year in spring, normally buried under a year’s worth of clutter that has found its way there.

Ox-eye daisies growing under the old apple tree

Once they germinated, I potted them up and later planted them out around our old apple tree and in several areas around the re-wilded area. This was a huge success and 2 years on we are once again being rewarded with pollinators buzzing around the many flowers. Now, it’s fair to say that whilst beautiful, they are a bit of a thug and we have been pulling them out of our naturalised gravel drive at an alarming rate – it’s amazing just how far they have spread – but that’s a small price to pay for the other riches they bring.

This year, I have tried yet again with yellow rattle, but sowing seeds using several different methods – some straight into an area of soil, and some into a seed tray. The photo shows that something is growing sporadically, but I’m just not sure what! Time will tell I guess…

Yellow rattle, maybe…?

Other than that, the wild area displayed a beautiful array of primroses earlier in the year which have naturalised all over the garden, bluebells planted by the previous owners (although Spanish unfortunately, I think), and sweet violets, all now giving way to ground ivy, cow parsley, buttercups, ox-eye daisies and forget-me-nots.

We have seen plenty of bees, our local hornet that tries to come into the house to nest every year (I have just let him out of the woodburner again, having come down the chimney), ladybirds – which nest in our window frames over winter – blue butterflies and orange-tips. The starlings are back nesting in our eaves again – I can hear them through the ceiling just above my bed – and Coco, our lhasa apso dog, knows the exact location of every mouse nest in the garden. Fortunately for them, her digging skills result in a muddy face and paws, but no mice.

But perhaps most enchanting of all was this (and apologies for the poor quality photo, but I had to be quick!)…

I’m afraid some see muntjac deer as a pest, but they are welcome to eat whatever they want in our garden!

Sadly though, having seen a hedgehog only once 6 years ago we have never seen one in the garden since, despite numerous log piles and undisturbed leaf piles. I guess the lack of flattened ones on the local roads suggests that we just don’t have any round here now, but we live in hope.

The vegan vegetable garden

For no particular reason (other than I hadn’t got round to clearing out the greenhouse) I have been very late with my seed-sowing activities this year. But, I’m catching up. And although I haven’t yet researched the providence of the seeds I’m using and whether they are through and through vegan (the likelihood is that they have come from plants grown in soils enriched with non-vegan fertilisers etc), I would rather use seeds than buy plants that I can almost guarantee have been grown with support from animal-based products.

I have, however, researched vegan compost, and very enlightening it all was too! You can read my guide to the best vegan compost here if you’d like to know more. Anyway, this year I have used Fertile Fibre’s vegan peat-free seed compost, and had some great results. The compost is clean and good quality. I had a couple of losses with my courgette seeds, but all my tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, chilli seeds, sweet peas, lettuces – well, everything else basically – have germinated successfully, producing strong seedlings.

I am still researching vegan growbags and will update my compost guide when I find out more. However, may of the vegan composts can be used as growbags anyway, but they will probably only support one plant in each.

Most of my seeds this year have come from D.T. Brown and I’ve secured a 10% discount code that you can use with them too: VEGANMUM10

They have a great range of seeds, including heritage varieties, and new kids on the block like their Thai Towers basil which I’ve sown – it looks amazing and we’re big thai basil fans in this house so I’m looking forward to cooking with it! I’m also growing:

  • Cocktail Crush tomatoes – a new variety for me
  • French dwarf beans – I have never grown beans before, so I’m very curious about these
  • Defender courgette – my previous relationships with courgette plants have been very short-lived. Don’t know what I do wrong, they’re supposed to be so easy…
  • Mixed salad leaves – see photo below. These are very tasty and so easy to grow!
  • Chilli plants – I grew lots of these last year and they stored very successfully in the freezer. I’m going to try dehydrating some of them in my air fryer this year – watch this space!
  • Garlic – and lots of it! My neighbour, Tony, thoughtfully bought this supply for us from the Garlic Farm in the Isle of Wight when he ordered his. My previous attempts at growing garlic have been a disaster, but this year is already looking very different I’m pleased to say, so maybe some of Tony’s magic has rubbed off.
Mixed salad leaves

It’s important to remember to use a vegan plant food – many fertilisers use animal products including manure, blood, fish and bone. For the first time this year, I have bought 2 different plant-based fertilisers called GroPure by a company called Andermatt. Certified organic and approved by the Vegan Society, these standard, and fruit and vegetable, vegan plant foods are made entirely from plant waste. I’ll update on how effective they are in my next article, but their products have great reviews.

Vegan gardening in the Spring

Well, everything is growing, even if I was a bit late in sowing everything.

I have about 40 garlic plants of different types growing since last year, and they are looking so much more successful than in previous years when all I have managed to dig up is the original clove that I planted in the first place! I have some in pots, one of the elephant garlics in a raised bed, and the others are in a wooden vegetable trug. Fingers crossed – I just need to research when to harvest and how to store them but I’m sure the Garlic Farm website will help me out with that.

True to form, only 1 of my courgette plants has survived, so I’ll still be buying courgettes this year in my Riverford veg box! What is it with me and courgette plants? I’ve tried growing them in large pots, in the raised vegetable beds and even tried training them up a trellis but they all just seem to fizzle out and die on me. But fortunately everything else is looking good and I have a lot of planting up and planting out to do in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed for a kindly summer…

Finally, please get in touch using my contact page if you have any useful hints and tips about vegan gardening that you’d like to share. I’d love to hear from you and keen to learn!


Is there a vegan potting soil?

In a word, yes. Many composts are not vegan because they often contain organic matter that comes from farm animals, including guano – bird droppings essentially. Have a read of my guide to the best vegan compost to find out more.

Is horse manure vegan

No, it isn’t. As an ethical vegan, I do not believe that people should keep horses in stables for riding, and since this is where most horse manure comes from, it would not align with my personal values.

What is a vegan alternative to blood, fish and bone?

Many different alternatives can be used including wood ash, fertilisers made from comfrey, compost, or seaweed products

Penny Barkas


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.