Gardening Matters: Sustainable Gardening with Biodiversity
New Planning regulations mean there is a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’—and their meaning of the word ‘sustainable’ may not be one we recognise!
Gardening-- What we can do:
Domestic gardens and any waste ground will become even more important for the environment, for species diversity and supporting Mother Nature to do the priceless and crucial work of stabilising and maintaining a liveable environment. Biodiversity is key, since little-understood species interrelationships allow this work to occur.
Bees and other pollinators are under threat and without them worldwide food will be drastically reduced to wind pollinated crops such as grain. Our gardens are crucial to the survival of pollinators. Sarah Raven has tried to influence Britain in Bloom to plant municipal gardens with bees and insect pollinators in mind.
Many bedding plants have been bred for show and are useless for pollinators. This includes Pelargoniums (‘Geraniums’), Begonias, and most double blooms with pom-pom form. Plant for bees. Observe what they feed on, and propagate these. Give a water source—a shallow dish with stones to prevent drowning.
Balanced diet, variety and the diverse substances and antioxidants present in wildflower meadows but often missing from in formal gardens—are essential to bee health. Bees’ immune systems are over-stressed by a host of factors—loss of food species and habitats,” factory” bee keeping and transportation for large scale agri- pollination, microwaves and electronic smog, Varoa mites, etc.
But chemicals such as Neonicotinoids in pesticides are now linked with bee colony decline, reduced development of queens and impaired foraging.
Be kind to people and wildlife—avoid pesticides, slug pellets and weedkillers!
Leave some areas of the garden undisturbed, with stones, rotting wood, and leaves. Allow a gap of 6 inches for hedgehogs to roam and forage, garden to garden.
Use only Peat-free compost.
Vital Earth Organic Peat-free Multipurpose Compost is an excellent performer. (www.thegreenergardener.com) Destruction of peat land for sale to gardeners is destroying Britain’s equivalent of the Rainforest—peatlands store huge amounts of CO2—and release it when the peat is removed.
GARDENING—WATER USE—Rivers are being run dry and habitats devastated because of irresponsible water use-- in summer a huge amount is wasted in gardens. (See RHS Booklet Gardening Matters: Water in the Garden www.rhs.org.uk/Gardening/.../pdfs/RHS-Anglian-Water-A5-online)
Collect rainwater. Direct water to the roots, not by sprinkling, in early am or pm, Mulch to reduce evaporation, and keep soil covered to avoid water damage. Use puddling technique (a mound of earth around the plant to retain water) Plant in spring or autumn in a hole which has been well watered.
Small is Beautiful! The ‘Forest Garden’ or Permaculture, can be much more productive methods than industrial scale agriculture with oil based chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
The ‘No Dig’ method works by preserving the natural rich soil ecosystem. As shown in CUBA after the US oil embargo, small scale organic gardening can be make urban gardens extremely productive.