There is a lot more interest in organic and eco friendly gardening. There is no better place than the garden for taking practical steps to help the environment. These are some simple suggestions that are quite easy to implement in your own garden.
Dealing With Slugs
The ubiquitous slug pellet can be quite damaging to wildlife, birds or cats may eat them by mistake. Instead of slug pellets there are many organic methods you can use.
- Beer traps. Slugs are attracted to sunken pots of beer and drown in the beer.
- Slug Nematodes. These are a nematode which are a natural foe of the slug. Watered into the soil they will prevent slugs growing in a certain area for upto 4 weeks.
- Physical barriers to pot plants
- Encouraging frogs – see pond.
Dealing With Pests.
Rather than use chemical sprays which kill many types of insects, try attracting insects who will do the job for you. One of the best ways to deal with pests such as green fly is to encourage their natural predators. For example, it is possible to attract more ladybirds, which will devour a huge amount of green fly. To attract ladybird grow plants that they like such as buddleia. You can also try ladybird boxes to help overwinter them.
A pond will make an attractive feature for any gardener and will definitely help the organic gardener. In particular try to encourage frogs. Frogs will do a great job in eating slugs, one of the great pests of the garden. To encourage frogs, make a pond which easily accessible from the edges and provide enough cover. If you have fish, try protecting the frog spawn.
Composting should be looked upon as an art in itself. There is great satisfaction in taking part in the natural recycling process of the garden. A well maintained compost heap will provide a steady supply of organic fertiliser and soil improver. If you have a neighbour who just send their lawn clippings to the tip, offer to take them and use them in your own compost heap. Well rotted compost is better than artificial fertilisers because it also acts as a soil conditioner. see: how to make good compost
Growing Your Own Vegetables.
Vegetables imported from around the world have a high carbon footprint because of the travelling involved. Growing your own vegetables means you can make a big difference to reducing carbon emissions. As an added bonus your own fruit and vegetables will taste much better. You will also know what they have been sprayed with. Commercially grown crops can be sprayed up to 27 times in a growing season.
Gardeners use a lot of peat which is contributing to the decline of natural peat areas. However, there are alternatives to peat. Seeds can be sown in a variety of mediums such as:
- mixture of top soil / sand.
- Coir based substitutes
At the very least peat should not be used as a soil improver. It is better to use organic composts such as well rotted horse manure or pelleted chicken manure.
Growing Local Plants
Look around the garden to see which local plants thrive. If you choose plants which are right for the local conditions, they will grow with less attention. It is always better to work with nature, rather than trying to fight nature and grow exotic plants not suited to your location.
In nature, there is great diversity. In our gardens we want to recreate this diversity to try and create a natural setting. For example, some plants like poached egg plants and marigolds attract hover flies which are a greedy eater of greenfly and other pests. (Note hoverfiles may look like a small variety of wasp, but, they have no sting.)
There are increasing demands being placed on water supplies. Gardeners can help to avoid unnecessary water use, by taking practical steps to conserve water. Ideas include:
- Make use of water butts, to collect rainwater from roofs.
- Mulch in spring after a heavy rain fall.
- Make sure any watering goes direct to roots and is not just dissipated from the surface.