Know your chem­i­cals!

There have been huge changes in the range of chem­i­cals avail­able to gar­den­ers but what’s safe to use and what’s not? GN cuts through the con­fu­sion

Garden News (UK) - - About Now - Words Ian Hodg­son

In just over 30 years many gar­den chem­i­cals have gone from be­ing saviour to scourge. Sev­eral pre­vi­ously highly re­garded prod­ucts have been dis­con­tin­ued by law on health or en­vi­ron­men­tal grounds, or for purely com­mer­cial rea­sons, while the fu­ture of oth­ers is in ques­tion.

Fu­elled by of­ten hotly con­tested sci­en­tific re­search, they’ve be­come the fo­cus of heated po­lit­i­cal de­bate in govern­ment and fer­vent lob­by­ing by en­vi­ron­men­tal groups. In re­sponse, man­u­fac­tur­ers have started in­tro­duc­ing new prod­ucts to the mar­ket with ‘or­ganic’ or ‘en­vi­ron­men­tally be­nign’ cre­den­tials. It’s no sur­prise gar­den­ers are con­fused and un­cer­tain about cer­tain prod­ucts and what the fu­ture might hold, par­tic­u­larly af­ter Bri­tain leaves the Euro­pean Union.

Re­mem­ber that all gar­den chem­i­cals cur­rently on sale have been passed as be­ing legally fit for pur­pose by EU agree­ments, over­seen in the UK by the Chem­i­cal Reg­u­la­tion Direc­torate. Use of any type of her­bi­cide is a mat­ter of per­sonal pref­er­ence and be­lief, but all prod­ucts should be used with care and ac­cord­ing to man­u­fac­tur­ers’ in­struc­tions. Only make or use as much as is re­quired for the job, specif­i­cally tar­get­ing rather than broad­cast­ing their use wher­ever pos­si­ble.

En­sure any residues and re­dun­dant prod­ucts are dis­posed of care­fully and stop us­ing prod­ucts that are with­drawn for le­gal rea­sons, af­ter any des­ig­nated ‘use up’ pe­riod has ex­pired.

Try to main­tain an in­te­grated ap­proach to weed con­trol and main­tain­ing plant health through good hus­bandry, though it’s not usu­ally pos­si­ble to com­bine bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol sys­tems with chem­i­cal means of con­trol in the same spot.

Ex­er­cise sen­si­ble weed­killer con­trol, weed­ing man­u­ally wher­ever pos­si­ble

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