In the busyness of daily life, using any aids we can to maintain our gardens is both beneficial and time-saving – or is it?
We have become accustomed to the quick-fix and always want immediate results. There are so many demands on our time that we have and do resort to using methods of care and maintenance that are antithetical to what nature intends.
- Plants that are susceptible to all types of disease and pests because their natural immune systems have become weakened through dependency on external intervention.
- Higher costs when gardening. Yes, we save time, but at a significant cost to the wallet.
- Gardening is seen as a chore, not as a hobby or fun
- Less tasty vegetables and fruit
- Depletion of nature’s army of ladybugs, frogs, worms, soil organisms and other predators of the bugs that like to munch on our favourite roses or lettuces.
- Plants not lasting what should be their natural life cycle.
- Habitat destruction – birds that can eat the insects need safe places to hide in our gardens yet, have we the tress and bushes for them? Or do we let the cat chase them away.
But, simply taking an eco-friendly approach to our gardening can be both financially beneficial and physically rewarding in that it provides us with a source of stress relief, an opportunity to be outdoors and exercising (try digging!), and relaxation in a great atmosphere – imagine sipping a crisp chilled white under a tree where you are surrounded by the color of cottage flowers and the perfume of a nearby rose or climbing wisteria.
Affordability and Savings
Being fully eco-friendly in the home as well as the garden would be the best goal to seek to achieve. However, it is not always feasible for the average homeowner burdened with a mortgage and the cost of daily life.
What is affordable and within everyone’s capacity is to be an organic gardener – an eco-friendly gardener.
For a start, you will save money, and if that is the only reason – then why not?
More importantly, every plant you nurture will contribute to the lessening of your carbon footprint as each will absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
We can’t just look at government and industry as excuses not to do our bit in preserving the environment. We all have to contribute.
How to go about it?
Well, it would be easy to say just pitch out all your chemicals and artificially derived fertilisers and go totally organic tomorrow.
However, I think gradually weaning yourself off non-organic methods of pest and disease control is probably sufficient and will involve less plant loss and frustration.
For example, I always used Triforine to control blackspot on rose foliage…. and it always appeared with the first flush of new spring foliage and growth.
I used Triforine to prevent its spread for the first few weeks of spring, then when it was absent, I gradually maintained control of its infestation with Neem Oil – an organic product.
Now, that is all I need. Blackspot, as rose growers will know is endemic in roses and it is not curable – but it can be reduced to almost non-existence if controlled.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch!
I should add to that heading, compost, compost, compost! As these two practices are the most significant foundational practices to adopt for being really organic or eco-friendly. And, they also save money!
Mulching will help conserve water – as moisture retention in the soil is vastly improved. it also helps moderate soil temperatures which helps keeps plants happy and healthy. Less water, less water bills too.
Mulch also acts a soil conditioner and keeps soil friable – and, in the case of clay breaks it down, and with sandy soil builds it up.
Depending on the type, mulch will also feed plants, maintain desired pH levels and assist prevention of weeds through suppression.
There is really no need to dig over a garden once you have it friable. Mulch will maintain that – and you save on the exertion.
This theme will be continued in the next article “The Organic Home Gardener” which addresses composting and other eco-friendly organic practises.