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5 Ways To Have A More Eco-Friendly Garden

Written by Sarah Talbot

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Posted on 23 November 2021

COP26 has got us all thinking,  How can we be that little bit greener?  As a gardener you are already doing your bit
- reducing food miles by growing close to home
- reducing food wastage by picking when you are ready to eat and 
- reducing plastic packaging by growing your own food

But are there more ways to have a more eco-friendly garden?  Here are a few ideas for steps you can take to help.

1. Select Plants Carefully

We all love to grow something exotic but pollinators will always prefer native plant species.  So make sure your garden is full of native plants to attract more indigenous bees and other pollinating insects. The added advantage to this is that the less space you have empty, the less weeds can spread into too!

Re-wilding 

Black-eyed-susan-wild-flower

It would be perfect if you could leave an area of your garden wild.  If you can replicate a hedgerow or meadow you will be rewarded with more pollinators.  This doesn't have to be a large area - throw a seed bomb into an unused corner.  Add blackberries, poppies, daisies, dandelions, buttercups and ox-eye daisies.  They will attract a diverse range of beneficial insects. Add sunflowers too for autumn bird food.  Birds will reward you by eating a few insects while they are there too hopefully.     

Companion Planting

Companion planting is planting plants that will help other plants in your garden.  They work in two main ways - some repel unwanted insects and some add nutrients to the soil.  Its a large subject but here are some ideas to start with.

  • Plant herbs like Dill & Fennel in the veg plot - they attract hoverflies that will eat your aphids. Plus you will have the herbs for cooking.
     
  • Grow French marigolds beside tomatoes, beans and sweetcorn - they give off a strong smell to repulse greenfly and black-fly.
     
  • Grow Carrots and leeks together.  Leeks are a natural repellent to carrot fly and carrots discourage leek moth.
     
  • Members of the pea family, like lupins, peas and beans, convert nitrogen from the air and store it in their roots.  This benefits the surrounding soil and the plants that grow in it.  Plant these near fruit trees for maximum crop and leave the roots in the ground when clearing plants at the end of the season.
     
  • The last top tip is avoid planting all of the same plants together or in rows; pests find their favourite plant and multiply quickly.  Think of a forest or jungle - nothing is in neat rows there, its not how nature works best.

2. Use Non-Chemical Pest Control

HoneyBees

Have your crops suffered from a lack of pollinators this year?Loss of habitat and changes in agriculture are harming the number and varieties of insects visiting our gardens.    

Apart from planting the right plants you can help redress the balance by taking an eco friendly approach to pest control.  That way you won't add to the problem and harm beneficial visitors to the garden. It's a simple solution - just using barriers to prevent plants being eaten rather than chemicals.  

Stop pests reaching your crops by using nets and protective covers.  To ensure that birds can't get to your crop make sure that you fit the cover tightly over the frame or cage.  This will also stop birds getting caught in loose netting which can be harmful.

Compact Grower Frame

Using a growing space like the Grower Frame or Compact Grower Frame will allow your winter broad beans to stay safe.  Or a Simple humming wire like Birdscare can stop your pea crop being eaten by pigeons. 

Haxnicks Birdscare organic pest protection from pigeons

Staying alert to pests is key so that they can be dealt with before they become a plague! Pick off small numbers or pests.  Greenfly and other aphids can be shaken or washed off.  Encourage birds into your garden by putting up nesting boxes and you can enlist their help in keeping bugs and caterpillars under control! If you get your companion planting right then it will lessen your need for pest control.

3. Make your own Compost 

Every garden should have a compost heap.  It not only saves you money buying compost but helps cut down on your household waste too.  Using kitchen waste such as vegetable peelings and garden waste like grass clippings you can quickly make your own organic fertiliser to improve your soil. Both Compost Sacks or a Roll Mix Composteare ideal for making your own compost especially if you are a small space gardener.

If you buy compost, opt for a peat-free variety.  It is being banned from 2024 so make the switch now to get ahead of the game. Coir (coconut fibre) is a great alternative and Growlite is available in blocks and disc.  These are much easier to store, use less space and can be hydrated as you need it.
Coir Based Growlite

4. Choose Sustainable Pots & Planters

Plastic degrades in natural light so this small step can make your plastic pots last longer.  If you look after them then you can reuse them year after year until they crack or split. This advice applies to Rootrainers which are designed to last 10 years and then recycled.


RootrainersPots like our Vigoroot™ Range are an excellent choice as these are helping to solve the issue of plastic waste.

Go one step further and use biodegradable pots and planters made from natural materials.  Bamboo Pots and Seed Trays can be reused for up to five years – then they can be broken up and added to your compost heap at home.

Hemp Planters are a great option for your plastic free vegetable gardening.  They are made from natural hemp fibre allowing you to grow more salads and vegetable crops literally on your doorstep!

Haxnicks natural hemp pots
 

5. Use less water in the garden

Water at the Right time

Simple changes like trying not to water in the middle of the day help to save water.  More of your water will be lost to evaporation without reaching the roots when the sun is at its hottest.  So, unless the temperatures are searing the best time to water plants is the cooler part of the day.   

Minimise Water Usage With Mulch

Mulching is another way to minimise water usage: spreading a biodegradable mulch such as compost, leaf mould or wood chips around a plant or over soil will provide protection from the sun.  It will also prevent drying and suppress weeds. Apply a thick layer of mulch from mid- to late spring and autumn, when the soil is moist and warm.

Try to include drought resistant plants in your borders and pots so that you can reduce the amount of watering required and place water butts and troughs wherever you can to make the most of the available rainwater.  Many plants prefer rain water so this is fantastic for both you plants and the environment.

The effects of global warming are already changing the way we garden - As gardeners we are perhaps more aware than anyone of the changes in our climate – sweltering heat, unseasonable heavy rain, big freezes one year barely a frost the next. We hope this has provided inspiration on how we can all help to slow these changes down, make a more eco-friendly garden and still enjoying beautiful and productive gardens.

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