1. Start a compost heap to recycle most of your garden and kitchen waste. Put used teabags, vegetable and fruit peelings on the compost heap. For more information on starting and using a compost heap check out the compost section.
2. Use alternatives to peat (a natural habitat that cannot be replenished) and preserve these important wildlife areas.
Slugs & Snails
Don't use chemical slug pellets as these are also harmful to other wildlife, pets and children. Thefollowing are a few environmentally friendly ways of controlling these pests:
1. Attract and encourage the slugs natural predators such as Hedgehogs, birds (such as Song Thrush) and frogs and toads into your garden.
2. Use a sharp material such as grit, sharp gravel or even dryed out and crushed egg shells around your plants to protect them from slugs and snails who can't cope with the sharp edges. You can also use wood ash.
3. Install a beer slug trap which are very effective in controlling slugs. Fill an enclosed container with holes of about an inch at ground level with beer and dig it into the ground. I have found the best container is a plastic bottle (these are easy to make holes in) such as those for soft drinks and washing up liquid.The beer attracts the slugs who will hopefully drown or you will be able to collect and destroy them in the morning. Don't use an open container as this can prove harmful to hedgehogs (they are also attracted by the beer and can fall into the container and not get out or become drunk and get killed by predators or in accidents. A purpose built container is available from Westfield Products.(tel no 01562 700056)
4. Plant herbs in your garden borders and veg patch as they deter slugs.
The old but now little used system known as crop rotation is beneficial in 2 ways. It gives protection against certain pests and diseases and maintains the soil in good and fertile condition.
Companion planting is a system of planting neighbouring plants together to there mutual benefit by repelling pests such as aphids and feeding by providing trace elements. The following are examples of companion planting:
1.Encourage birds by having a bird table, bird nest box, bird bath and growing plants that are attractive to birds.
2. Encourage butterflies by growing plants to attract them.
3. Help our bat population by putting up a bat box. - Bats eat thousands of insects and are therefore a gardeners friend. All 16 species of British bat are protected by law, harmless and many are endangered. For more information visit the Bat Conservation Trust site.
4. Set aside a corner of the garden in October for hibernating animals such as hedgehogs or frogs.
5. Plant native wild flower seeds.
For other ideas on environmental best practice in the garden, please post your ideas in the Forum. The best ones will be added to this page.