Together with Friends of the Earth, we are co-curating a screening of the hard-hitting documentary ‘Toxic Soup’, tonight at The Grafton, NW5.
It is a film about the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides, and the politics of pollution. Of course this is something that we, at Of Butterflies and Bees feel very strongly about and we cannot support the use of any chemical pesticide or herbicide! There are plenty of natural solutions to create a balanced eco-system and healthy plant community. Below are some ideas:
NATURAL SOLUTIONS FOR PLANT HEALTH
Most people use pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers as they don’t feel they have any other choice. There are however, lots of solutions to keep pests and diseases away through natural controls, to create a balanced eco system. Below is a list of ideas all of which will help form a part of an integrated pest management plan:
- Maintain soil health. Correct watering, soil composition, mulch, organic matter comfrey tea, green manures. For helpful advice visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk
- Right plant, right place. Shade v sun. Exposure etc.
- Companion planting. Plants have natural substances in their roots, flowers, leaves that can alternately repel and/or attract insects. Companion planting can discourage harmful pests without losing beneficial allies. Use them as a border, backdrop or interplant in your flower or veg beds. Use plants that are native to your area, so the insects you want to attract know what to look for! Plants with open cup shaped flowers are the most popular with beneficial insects. Example:
Aromatic plants like alliums (chives, garlic, leeks, onions and shallots) repel aphids, fruit tree borers, rust flies, nematodes, weevils, red spiders and carrot flies. Alliums are believed to inhibit the growth of peas and beans and should be planted on the opposite border from your nitrogen producing beans. Planted among your carrots, the smell of alliums confuses onion and carrot flies and sends them looking elsewhere for food.
The Companion Planting Guide for more surprising and useful combinations.
- Homemade sprays: Neem oil from the neem tree has been used for centuries to ward off insects. Garlic oil spray made from water, minced garlic which you leave for several weeks and then spray on stems and leaves. Simple soapy water can also work! Rhubarb spray has been suggested by some to control aphids (although some claim the oxalic within it adds toxins to the crop)
- Biological control. The term for when a predator controls a pest. Add beneficial insects, ladybirds, certain nematodes, parasitic wasps to take care of insect problems.
- Attract insect eating birds. Provide safe nesting sites, habitat, food. Plant year around nectar rich plants. (see our Trail of Wellbeing)
- Crop rotation.
- Bug club!!! Get the kids out there and start plucking up those snails and make a snail racing track!!
We will be running a natural solutions for plant health workshop in March/April.