Last week, we spoke of the importance of creating biodiversity in your garden; how to use nature to support your plants. Today I think it’s crucial that we start with the foundation of successful gardening – how to create healthy soil and see your garden flourish.
These days, there are more and more harmful chemicals being used around the world on our soils and on our plants. As we import and export our food, more and more diseases and pests are being brought into our environments.
By spraying chemicals to treat these problems, this not only adds toxicity to our food chain, it depletes our soils of their natural beneficial microbes, killing off the soil so that plant health suffers and it gets harder and harder to grow.
This downward spiral is crazy! Not to mention terrifying.
Did you know that by overhead spraying of chemicals, we are wiping out our many beneficial insects that aid with pollination and take care of the bad insects as nature intended? By depleting the good insects, it makes way for many more harmful insects and in turn will make it very difficult to grow good, healthy food.
As we discussed in last week’s blog, a healthy environment for your plants is a polyculture made up of many different plants, flowers, herbs and green manure crops. The combination of these plantings creates a great host area for many beneficial insects that will keep the population of bad insects down.
Beneficial insects are known as pollinators, predators and parasites. Pollinators fertilise flowers, which will increase your crop production. Predators consume the bad guys as a food source, and parasites use pests as a nursery for their young.
Top tip #1: It is recommended to plant at least 5-10 % of your garden in plants that will attract these insects to create good biodiversity.
Top tip #2: It is also good to remember when planning your garden to give beneficial plants a permanent space as well as interplanting, then you can easily let them go to seed to keep the cycle going.
Top tip #3: Plant a variety of beneficial flowers so their flowering time can stretch through the seasons.
Top tip #4: If you have a large area, you can plant cover crops rather than leaving it in grass, as this will give a much-needed haven to the good guys.
Top tip #5: A hedgerow around the perimeter of your property can help by both giving much needed protection from the diverse weather we are all experiencing around the world and by creating a great home and source of food for the insects.