Insects are dying out up to eight times faster than larger animals, and 41% of insect species face extinction.
This is a grave cause for concern – it impacts people as well as wildlife. Insects pollinate three quarters of our food crops, as well as being a vital food source for many birds, small mammals and fish. Loss of their habitat and overuse of pesticides are two of the major causes of this looming catastrophe. However, the good news is that it’s not too late to act.
Go chemical-free in your garden and help to revive our insect populations. If you’ve used chemicals in the past, this might sound like an invitation to every pest for miles around to shred your garden… and that might well happen at first. But, with time and patience, you’ll end up with a healthier garden for ditching the chemicals.
Spraying to deal with pests can often kill the predators too, or at least make them want to avoid your garden. When you stop using chemicals, aphids are the first creatures to return as they have a short breeding cycle. Their predators may take longer to come back, but stick with it and know it will be better in the long run!
Our top tip for going chemical free is to ensure your garden has as much variety as possible, so that no one species will be able to gain control. The more complex and varied your garden is, the more resilient it becomes.
Protecting your plants with horticultural fleece or mesh can prevent a range of pests, from invertebrates to birds, from accessing your plants. A tougher barrier like a cloche (which can be made at home by repurposing a plastic bottle) may be appropriate in some situations, especially for protecting young seedlings in order to give them a head start.
A popular way of repelling slugs is to use crushed eggshells or coffee grounds scattered around plants. In dry conditions, this will irritate the slug, and will naturally degrade into the soil with time. Using salt is not recommended unless you are growing plants that thrive in salty soil! Copper is also said to repel slugs, and gardeners use it in a range of forms, including coins, stripped electrical wire, or copper tape.
In the end, you’ll wonder why you ever needed chemicals in the first place.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, working for a better future for wildlife and wild places in Hampshire and the Island.
Phone: 01489 774 400 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.hiwwt.org.uk
Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, Beechcroft House, Vicarage Lane, Curdridge, Hampshire, SO32 2DP