Companion Planting: Greenfingers Environmentally Friendly Gardening - Leicestershire County, United Kingdom
DIGGING FOR THE FACTS Community Services aFind out about your impact on the environment.Peat (used in many composts) is organic and natural, but its use ingardening is responsible for the destruction of many of the UK’s Greenfingerspeat bogs. This is a delicate habitat that regenerates veryslowly – so with the loss of the peat, you also lose the wild flowers Environmentallyand specialist wildlife that depend on them. 96% ofnative peat bogs have now disappeared and the Friendly Gardeningremaining 4% are under threat due to demand for peatfrom gardeners and growers. This demand is nowthreatening to cause damage to peat bogs in Europe aswell. Similarly, damage is being caused by moss collection from the wild, for hanging baskets, rather than from managed sources. If considering furniture in the garden, an eco-friendly gardener would ensure that furniture is not made usinghardwoods taken from the wild, but those grown in a sustainablymanaged forest.Consideration also needs to be given to the chemicals inpreservatives and paint used to treat and colour the furniture andthe implications these may have in contaminating the surroundingenvironment. For more information contact: Leicestershire County Councils Environmental Resources Centre, Heritage Services, Holly Hayes, 216 Birstall Road, Birstall, Leicestershire LE4 4DG or (0116) 267 1377 Or Stepping Stones C.M.P., Environmental Action, Sustainable Development Services, Community Services Department, Leicestershire County Council, County Hall, Glenfield, LE3 8TE or (0116) 265 7264 Or Sustainable Development Office on (0116) 265 7242 address at County Hall as above With support from:20
WILD PATCHES MORE FUN, LESS STUFF Remember the simple environmental chant "reduce, re-use, recycle".Gardening is a favourite pastime, with a growing number of A gardener can do much to follow this rule!people turning their hand to creating a small pocket of paradise in •If you create a rockery, use reclaimed stone or stone substitutes.their own backyard, and for many it gives a rare opportunity to Quarrying causes severe damage to the countryside. Many limestoneconnect with nature. products are taken from limestone pavements (rocky areas that have lots of cracks running through where many wild flowers grow).Now, more than ever before, it is important that gardeners turn •Use recycled timber where you can. For example, old joists to build a “green” and become eco-friendly, thinking about how pergola, recycled railway sleepers to make raised beds, or old wooden their every action could affect their own mini-nature pallets for fencing. If you do have to use new timber, avoid tanalised or reserve and the wider pre-treated timber and ensure it has come from a sustainable timber environment. producing source which is accredited with the FSC logo. •Think about using recycled plastic fencing materials. This new product isEco-gardening is all about generating a healthy available ready coloured - so you wont need paint either!balance and working with nature to conserve the world’s resources, •Go to a salvage yard. Old chimneys or wheelbarrows can make great planters.minimise pollution and encourage wildlife. •Think about product miles – these are the miles your purchase has travelled to reach you. Support the local economy, by buying local products to helpEco-friendly gardening encompasses many of the beliefs of reduce transport energy.wildlife gardening (managing the garden to attract a variety of •To reduce the miles that food travels, shop at Farmers Markets or, betterwildlife) and organic gardening (avoiding chemicals). Eco-friendly still, grow your own food such as herbs and tomatoes.gardening also shows how local action can help to protect the global •If you have garden lighting, ensure minimal wattage to avoid light pollution.environment for the benefit of current and future Consider using lights that are solar powered. Solar powered water featuresgenerations. are also now available, helping reduce the use of non-renewable fuel as energy sources.This leaflet aims to highlight some areas of •Send your unwanted gardening tools to charities. Many are sent to the Thirdgardening that can produce significant benefits for World or used at charity gardening groups.the environment through small and simple steps. •Use cut down plastic drink bottles to make mini-cloches for seedlings.Every gardener will have their own personal •Use buckets made from recycled car tyres, ground tumbled recycled glasspreferences and priorities, which will govern their for mulch and paths, reclaimed timber bird boxes or planters and recycledchoices on how they garden, but it is hoped that the plastic plant pots.information here will help to guide you through those •Think how you can recycle things you use in the garden, such as old flowerdecisions. pots, compost used for seeds, or prunings from shrubs that could act as next years plant supports.2 19
WATER, WATER GO ORGANICWater is essential to life in the garden. There are simple steps you Avoid using chemicals, such as pesticides, in the garden. Many ofcan take to help save water. these are applied repeatedly and can begin to affect the food chain of the animals that feed on the pest species. Many birds and insects• Collect rainwater that runs off the roof of the shed and then use are natural predators of the pests that chemicals are primarily used this to help water your garden. Target specific plants and areas, against, and stopping use can rather than using it freely across the whole garden. immediately result in an increase in garden visitors.• Avoid watering in the midday sun, as the water will • Soft soap sprays, such as diluted washing up evaporate in the heat. The best time to water the garden is early liquid or purpose bought solutions, can be used for morning, or evening, and when not windy. the organic control of many pests, for example red spider mite, a common pest of greenhouses and• Use washing-up water to water roses. garden flowers, such as fucsias and carnations. The The washing-up best solution to stop colonies forming is to keep the detergent can help combat aphids. air damp and spray regularly.• Stop watering the lawn. Even when grass looks dead, with the • Larger pests, such as caterpillars, can be handpicked from plants, first heavy rain it will return to green. or tolerated!• Remember to mulch to help reduce evaporation from the soil. • Biological controls are available to treat pests such as vine• Water less frequently, but deeply and thoroughly. This will also weevil and whitefly. Often the biological control is a help plants to develop healthy, deep root systems. predator or parasite that affects the target species and reduces, or controls, populations. To control slugs a parasitic• Grow drought tolerant plants such as those from nematode is “watered into the soil”. This attacks them and Mediterranean countries, for example, thyme and rosemary. eventually kills them. To control whitefly in green houses a More drought resistant plants often have silver and grey parasitic wasp, Encarsia formosa, is used. It is harder to use foliage, for example, lambs ear and lavender. this type of control in the garden and better to attract beneficial wildlife to achieve a harmonious balance.• Use a watering can whenever possible, rather than a hose. If you do use a hose buy a trigger nozzle.18 3
CHEMICAL CONCERNS BE HEAP HIP – CREATE A COMPOST CORNER Chemicals used in the environment have been All households generate organic waste, like vegetable peelings, and shown to seep into ground water supplies. Others garden waste, which is normally disposed of via the bin to a landfill have been shown, over time, to affect people’s site. Waste analysis suggests that there are at least 4 tonnes of health. Many garden chemicals are now being household waste a year that could be composted. banned and safer alternatives recommended. • By creating a compost heap, the waste in your• Timber treatments and preservatives should bin is reduced. The end result is a product you be avoided where ever possible as, by their can use to mulch your very nature, they are persistent, toxic flower-beds and enrich your soil. products. It is best to choose the right wood for the right job. • A compost heap is also a valuable habitat. Locate it in a shady corner of the garden. Garden waste, grass• Untreated wood, like oak and sweet chestnut, will last for 20 clippings and household vegetable matter can all be added and years, even in contact with the ground. allowed to rot down and decay. Shredded newspaper and cardboard can also be added. Plants such as nettles and comfrey• Fence posts can be given metal supports to reduce rot. can be grown and then mixed in to the heap to act as a compost activator. • Linseed oil can be used to protect wood that is not in contact with the soil, thus avoiding harmful • Healthy compost should be dark brown, crumbly and smell sweet. chemicals. It is essential to keep your compost heap aerated, so regularly fork over the pile. • Be careful when you come to empty your bin, or turn the compost, you may find it has become a residence for small mammals and amphibians.4 17
ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS ATTACK OF THE APHIDSThe soil is the essential ingredient for healthy plants in everygarden. Soil needs nourishment. One of the commonest garden pests are aphids, which attack many plants, especially• Decaying organic matter, such as leaves, well- the garden rose. rotted manure or home-made compost, being dug in or added as mulch, adds nourishment to Aphids are small, soft-bodied, insects which can range in colour, the soil. Soil conditioners and non-chemical between species from pale green through to brown, purple and fertilisers also include extracts from seaweed. black, depending on the time of year. They form dense colonies and Alternatively, a “green manure”, or cover crop produce sticky honeydew to act as a deterrent such as clover, can be grown. This is then dug to the ladybirds, that feed on them. This in to improve and enrich the soil. honeydew is favoured by ants, which harvest it. Aphids also act as a staple in the diet of birds• Mulches can be spread over flowerbeds to reduce weeds and be like the blue tit. Aphid attacks weaken plants made from shredded bark, lawn clippings, or and the sticky honeydew can attract diseases composted leaves. These often help reduce water such as sooty moulds. loss from the soil – plus they attract beneficial earthworms which, over time, work the mulch into • Aphids can be treated organically by the soil. spraying with water containing a soft soap solution. Alternatively, regularly spray plants • When growing vegetables, use crop rotation to with water, to knock the aphids off. Attacks avoid the spread of disease and can also be reduced by ensuring that plants are depletion of nutrients from the not over-fed, causing the lush growth that soil. aphids love.• Avoid using peat pots for seedlings. Use recycled, bio-degradable, paper pots that can be planted straight into the ground. These breakdown and add to the soil.16 5
COMPANION PLANTING FEEDING STATIONS Companion planting is the art of growing plants • It is best to leave seed heads as a source of together, which have a beneficial effect on food during winter. The hollow stems of many each other. It has been practised since Roman perennials can also offer over-winter shelter for times and can be a useful way to combat pests. garden insects, larvae and pupae. • For example, • Trees and shrubs provide food in the form of buds, berries and greenfly detest members of the onion seeds, nesting and (later in the year) hibernation sites. They are family so, if you grow plants such as also vital breeding grounds for insects and spiders which, in turn, chives or garlic, under roses, you will are eaten by larger animals. have less of these pests. Members of the onion family also have fungicidal • For example the native hawthorn, often used in countryside properties, so growing them can help hedgerows, supports over 300 different types of insect. combat blackspot on roses. • A bird table is a valuable asset for the garden. It offers a • There are many plants that act as natural insecticides, great reward in terms of being able to watch our feathered for example parsley will deter greenfly and carrot fly, whilst friends. You need to put out food at regular times each day, and marigolds and nasturtiums repel aphids. Plants such as tansy keep the table clean of debris or droppings. Consider a variety of and spearmint deter ants. food types to support the widest range of birds. Remember not all species will use a table, some species such as sparrows and wrens prefer to feed on the ground. • If you have a pet cat, put a bell on the collar. Domestic pets are responsible for many deaths of garden wildlife.6 15
CREATURE COMFORTS BEAT THE BUGS NATURALLY The best pest control is to attract natural predators.There are about 250 species of bird that breed in Britain each These include many ground beetles, centipedes andyear. flying insects such as lacewings. Lacewings feed on aphids and can be attracted by providing suitable• Nest boxes are useful to encourage birds to breed and roost in shelter. the garden. The size of the hole has a great influence on what uses it. Tits use • Rotting log piles and undisturbed ground are boxes with the smallest holes (30mm), important habitats, providing nooks and whilst a 50mm hole will allow usage also by crannies for many of these insects, and should sparrows and robins. Bird boxes should be considered in the garden. A log-pile also always be cleaned out in the autumn to help provides cover and damp hollows for frogs, stop the spread of diseases. toads and other amphibians. • Consider having a birdbath. Ideally you • Hoverflies also feed on adult and young aphids. Hoverflies look should regularly change the water and keep like wasps, due to their yellow and black markings, and can often it topped up. be seen hovering over open flowers within the garden. They are excellent pollinators and are attracted to plants with white and • Many catalogues include bat boxes, a yellow colours, such as the pollen rich poached egg plant variety of bird boxes, as well as wooden (Limnanthese douglasi), or native flowers such as the ox-eye butterfly and bee shelters. Alternatively, daisy. you can often buy these from many environmental charities – helping spread your “green” influence.• A pipistrelle bat can eat up to 3500 insects a night and will often hunt over a pond to feed on midges and moths attracted by the water.14 7
• In Britain there are 43 types of BOUNTIFUL BUTTERFLIES AND BEES ladybird whose colours include yellow, as well as red. In the springtime, ladybirds Many features that are beneficial to wildlife are plants that we lay their eggs next to greenfly colonies often choose for our gardens, such as the Buddleia, often known as and the young larvae then feed on these. the "butterfly bush". This was introduced from China, but supports over 20 different British butterflies - more than any native plant. • Many gardening catalogues now include • Butterflies are popular visitors to the garden and are generally “ladybird lodges or lounges” (wooden shelters for hibernating attracted by purple, pink and mauve flowers. Many plants are insects), since the ladybird can live for over a year and labelled as butterfly plants, such as the ice plant, aubretia, sweet hibernates in winter. williams and cranesbills. All are nectar rich. • Leave crumbling stones, bricks and • By leaving the lawn to grow and seed, many wildflowers will be walls. These provide hiding places for given the opportunity to grow and spread in. A flowering lawn will insects and spiders. Stonework and bare attract butterflies such as the meadow brown. Often, soil patches also provide areas for cuckooflower (lady’s smock) will appear, which then attracts the basking insects to warm in the sun, and orange-tip butterfly whose larvae feed on them. hunting areas for spiders. • Consideration needs to be given to plants upon which butterflies• When cleaning your shed in winter, lay their eggs, as well as food plants – so butterfly favourites, leave hibernating lacewings, queen such as stinging nettles, should be considered. A nettle patch wasps, spiders, and rodents, which may supports four types of butterfly in the garden - red admiral, have taken up residence. Do not put small tortoiseshell, peacock and comma. insects outside – they will die. • Bees regularly visit pea type flowers such as vetches, broom and gorse. These flowers have lips, which are pushed open by the weight of the bee to release the nectar. If you wish to attract bees to the garden avoid commercially bred double flowers. All of the above help maintain a healthy balance in the garden and pollinate the plants that we enjoy.8 13
FLOWER POWER MERRY MOLLUSCSTo attract the widest variety of beneficial wildlife, the garden In a Royal Horticulturalshould aim to provide natural food for a long period each year. Society survey of gardeners in 2003, slugs and snails were the• A mixed herbaceous border can be planted with many number 2 top garden pest wildflowers, or herbs, that provide nectar throughout the (after the domestic cat!) seasons. They also offer a spectacular sight in high summer. There are many options to control slugs and snails in the garden,• When buying wildflowers and bulbs consider "provenance" from chemical pellets, which are thought to have damaging affects - i.e. where the plants have come from. Some wildflowers, bulbs and shrubs come from Europe and, when grown in this country, on wildlife; copper collars for plants; through to beer traps and their genetic form can mean you have, for example, flowers that grapefruit skins to attract the pests, or simply just collecting slugs should be a few inches tall, growing to over a foot in height. and snails by torchlight and then removing them from the garden.• Herbaceous flowers, combined with small shrubs, Research has shown that slugs and snails annuals and ferns, can be planted to benefit tend to avoid coffee granules when put wildlife and provide interest throughout the year. around plants.• By selecting native wildflowers and shrubs, • A way to reduce slug damage is to grow young seedlings on before combined with ornamental varieties, chosen for planting them out. their value to wildlife as nectar, seed and berry producers, you can develop a valuable wildlife habitat, providing food, shelter • If your garden is plagued by slugs and snails, try growing plants and nesting sites for many species, including butterflies, bees, that seem less palatable to them such as cranesbills and hardy insects and birds. geraniums; plants with hairy leaves such as lady’s mantle; plants with essential oils in their leaves such as lavender and rosemary;• Never transplant plants or bulbs from the wild – this is illegal. waxy-leaved plants such as aquilegias; or plants with acid sap, Also do not collect seed from the countryside. such as euphorbias. Many of these are traditional cottage garden plants and are great for attracting wildlife!• Don’t be too tidy - accept a few weeds. These are native wild flowers who have “volunteered” to grow in your garden! Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”12 9
MOLLUSC MUNCHERS • Male frogs hibernate at the bottom of garden ponds so, in winterGardens cover more than one million acres of land and, with our when icy, ensure holes are made to stop the pond from becomingcountryside under increasing threat, every garden has the potential depleted in oxygen and suffocating them. To keep the pond forto be a haven for wildlife. It is therefore no surprise that many wildlife don’t stock with goldfish, as they will eat their wayspecies, which are in decline in the countryside, have begun to through all the insect larvae and frog spawn in future years.thrive in our gardens. Species such as the common frog, whosepopulations were decimated with the loss of field ponds, and thesong thrush whose numbers fell due to changes in the rurallandscape, have seen an increase in numbers thanks to our gardens.Frogs, hedgehogs and birds like to feedon slugs and snails, so encouraging • Hedgehogs also eat slugs and can be luredwildlife into your garden is one of the to a garden where shelter is provided by amost effective ways of reducing the log pile with a suitable sized gap anddamage done by these and other covered with leaves. Alternatively, you can“pests”. provide a hedgehog hibernation box.• Ponds are vital sources of water – even an old sink suitably filled • If in winter you build a bonfire, be careful before lighting it. will be a habitat for frogs and dragonflies. A wildlife pond can Quite often such woodpiles attract hibernating wildlife– so also attract an array of aquatic insects and other wetland always check for animals, such as hedgehogs, before you strike wildlife. When considering a pond, remember to have a shallow, the match. Be aware that garden sloping side to allow access for wildlife. bonfires are not permitted in some areas, which are smokeless zones.To stock your pond with wildlife, ask a friend with a pond if you can This is part of a policy to reduce airget a few buckets full of sludge and, in this way, introduce hundreds pollution and smog – so check withof pond creatures. your local council first.10 11
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