How last year's resolutions went in my garden
LAST year, I wrote about New Year's resolutions for gardeners. Here's mine and how they went.
1. Limit the use of chemicals:
Despite planting white alyssum, winter cress and nasturtiums with my brassicas in winter, I still had far too many very hungry caterpillars. I squashed hundreds, and also sprayed with neem oil a couple of times. I'm currently at war with grasshoppers.
They are much harder to catch and squash than caterpillars, so again it's a spray with neem oil to limit the damage. Powdery mildew is starting to appear on the cucumbers, but so are the black and yellow ladybirds who feed on it. I have sprayed with Sea Energy which aids growth and helps prevent fungal conditions.
2. Banish weeds:
I can't say I have won this battle, but it is better than last year, thanks to ground covers and mulch. I try to pull weeds out before they flower and set seed. I've had success with Amgrow Organix Weed Blitz, and Slasher Organic Herbicide, which are both made from plant oils so are much safer than conventional herbicides. Boiling water is still my favourite treatment for weeds between the pavers.
3. Grow more food:
My kitchen garden has been mighty productive, and the citrus trees produced bumper crops throughout winter. Most meals have included something from the garden and I've enjoyed experimenting with a few more unusual crops like celeriac. Even if you have no garden, grow some herbs and lettuce in pots. It's just so good!
4. Nurture the soil:
Look after the soil, and your plants will pretty much look after themselves. Add organic matter whenever you plant, and replenish it a couple of times a year. Mulch everything, always.
5. Go natural:
Use fertilisers derived from natural ingredients like blood and bone, fish emulsion, seaweed, manure and compost instead of chemical fertilisers. They improve the soil as they feed the plants.
6. Start composting:
Turn kitchen and garden waste into soil food. In wilder parts of my garden, I just chop the prunings up a bit and spread them on the ground under the plants where they break down slowly.
7. Attract beneficial insects:
Ladybirds are doing a brilliant job consuming the aphids on my roses at the moment. Plant food for beneficial insects like ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies and bees to help with pollination and with pest control. Limit chemical use so you don't kill off the good guys.
8. Work smarter, not harder:
Be sensible, especially in the hot weather. Gardening is great exercise, but you don't want to injure yourself or suffer from heat stroke.
9. Don't be afraid to outsource:
Get someone to help with the tasks you find difficult or unenjoyable. Keep the fun stuff for yourself, though.
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