Work­shop How to gar­den greener

Bring your back­yard into bal­ance with our top tips for en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious gar­den­ing that’s bet­ter for the birds, the bees and our world

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - Text by Carol Buck­nell.

Less than 100 years ago, the way peo­ple gar­dened was very much in tune with na­ture, and com­post­ing, com­pan­ion plant­ing and grow­ing your own food were the norm. Mod­ern gar­den­ing brought harm­ful chem­i­cals and waste­ful prac­tices into the main­stream, but re­cently these meth­ods are be­ing re­jected in favour of tra­di­tional tech­niques which are kinder to the en­vi­ron­ment. Fol­low these 10 steps and you’ll be well on your way to a more eco-friendly gar­den.

1 Grow your own

The sat­is­fac­tion of grow­ing your own food beats su­per­mar­ket shop­ping hands down, even if you’re just cul­ti­vat­ing one planter box of salad greens and herbs. If you can avoid us­ing harm­ful sprays, the health ben­e­fits are enor­mous, too. To max­imise space, plant any spare spots in your gar­den with fruit trees that will crop at dif­fer­ent times of year (eg pip fruit in sum­mer, fei­joas in au­tumn, cit­rus in win­ter).

2 Feed the pol­li­na­tors

We all know that honey bees are un­der threat and this is partly due to the degra­da­tion of their habi­tats. Cul­ti­vat­ing plants rich in pollen and nec­tar is some­thing we can all do to fill the gap. Na­tive plants such as hebe, manuka and ren­garenga lily are im­por­tant sources of food for na­tive and ex­otic bees. Bees love blue and yel­low flow­ers and big groups of these are eas­ier for them to spot from above. Herbs such as bor­age, rose­mary, laven­der, sage and thyme are also favourite bee fod­der, along with fruit trees and flow­er­ing an­nu­als and peren­ni­als such as alyssum, cat­mint, cos­mos, marigold and phlox. Wa­ter is es­sen­tial for the sur­vival of bees so leave shal­low bowls of wa­ter in the gar­den for them in sum­mer.

3 Be wise with wa­ter

Rather than waste valu­able rain­wa­ter by al­low­ing it to flow into the of­ten over­stretched stormwa­ter sys­tem, har­vest it in rain­wa­ter tanks. Add fil­ters to trap con­tam­i­nants and use the wa­ter for gar­den ir­ri­ga­tion. Grey wa­ter is an­other good wa­ter re­source to utilise in the gar­den. Con­sider how you can re­duce your gar­den’s ir­ri­ga­tion needs as well. Wa­ter lawns less of­ten or in­stall a wa­ter­ing sys­tem that doesn’t waste wa­ter through evap­o­ra­tion. Think about us­ing gravel in­stead of con­crete for paths so the wa­ter sinks into the ground rather than run­ning off into the stormwa­ter sys­tem.

4 Use fewer chem­i­cals

Elim­i­nat­ing or re­duc­ing chem­i­cal sprays is key to the sur­vival of our bees. Even or­ganic sprays such as pyrethrum are toxic to bees and should be sprayed at night while they are not ac­tive. Use traps or bar­ri­ers to de­ter slugs and snails in­stead of bait, and choose plant-based weed sprays rather than chem­i­cal pes­ti­cides. Spray­ing com­post, sea­weed and other plant-based teas onto the fo­liage of plants is also a great way to help re­duce pests and dis­eases.

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rapid con­cen­trate, $19.98, from Bun­nings.

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