Casual Gardener: Gardening should come naturally

THAT is Cop26 behind us now, so expect a noticeable drop in media coverage on climate-related issues. The real problems themselves, of course, will not go away; they will simply be marginalized and largely unsolved, forgotten like the countless lengthy press releases Stormont has issued over the past fortnight to demonstrate concern about the climate crisis.

Such platitudes are reminiscent of the rhetoric and expediency of many companies and organizations that seek entrepreneurial benefits from exaggerating their environmental friendliness. The practice known as “greenwashing” is as old as the climate crisis and involves taking positive action with negligible environmental value.

Over the past two weeks, many articles on gardening in the written and broadcast media have focused on what we can do in our gardens to become more sustainable and to combat climate change.

Regular readers will know that this column has not lagged behind for nearly 20 years to evangelize an approach to gardening that always takes into account its long-term effects on nature. In fact, gardening should be something that should be taken for granted.

There is a misconception that, because gardening grows and tends to living organisms, it must be somehow completely harmless. However, this is a myth, as a quick look at any garden center confirms.

Amid the myriad of plastic pots, mass-produced Christmas decorations, and gasoline-powered garden tools, you’ll find a number of chemicals designed to thwart nature. Weed and pest control chemicals are among the worst culprits. Although they supposedly make your garden appear healthier because there are fewer pests and insects, in addition to better yields, this can also have numerous negative effects for the gardener and nature.

Weedkillers have a negative impact on wildlife habitats

Weed killers like glyphosate do exactly what they promise on the can, but they also have a negative impact on the habitats of the living things that make up your garden’s biodiversity. By clearing vegetation, they also promote soil erosion and reduce long-term fertility.

Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are now contaminating soil and groundwater, with the residues lingering in your soil for years and posing a threat to humans and animals. Instead, use natural food made from nettles, comfrey or algae.

Not only will you forego chemicals and instead promote the ecology of your garden, but you can also change your habits to reduce your environmental footprint. Getting water is one of the easiest steps you can take to become more sustainable.

If you fill one or more dumps with rainwater during wet periods, you will be less dependent on tap water to quench your plants’ thirst during longer dry periods. It can also be a good idea to choose plants that are more drought tolerant. So if we see another summer like this year, don’t risk breaking the law by using a hose.

Many gardeners partially offset the carbon they consume by growing crops, but there are other steps you can take to reduce your footprint, such as: B. the purchase of only local seeds and plants.

Also avoid using peat, the extraction of which not only destroys important habitats but also releases carbon into the atmosphere that would otherwise have been trapped in the soil. It’s also a good idea to let your garden center know that you prefer peat-free, which can help sway their guidelines.

If you need to use plastic, be it pots, trays or labels, recycle and reuse them.

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