We Love to Garden
New Zealanders are a nation of gardeners. Consumer surveys show we buy more gardening books than novels or books on sports and we eagerly attend garden tours, shows and fte. Television and radio surveys often show garden programmes ranked in their top 10.
Certain styles of gardening can be environmentally destructive.
Over-spraying can damage ecosystems and birds and insects that are helpful in the garden and our environment can be adversely affected.
In this pamphlet we have included some information to help you enjoy your work in the garden and protect our environment at the same time. It is not exhaustive and if you have any recipes or helpful hints we would love to hear from you.
Many commercially marketed pesticides kill insects indiscriminately, knocking out those that are helpful as well as those that are a nuisance. Insects with high concentrations or poison in their bodies are then eaten by predators (including native birds and possums). The poison can accumulate in an animal's system until it reaches a lethal concentration and the animal dies.
There are many natural alternatives to chemical pesticides that are freely available at nurseries. You can also try your own natural alternatives.
Pyrethrum spray will control aphids, white fly and many other insect pests but it is fatal to bees. Spray during the late afternoon or before dusk when the bees are not at work. The pyrethrum breaks down quickly, and will not harm the bees when they return to the sprayed plants the following day.
A saucer filled to the brim with beer is just as effective as commercial poison baits for controlling snails. They are attracted by the smell, drink greedily and then drown. A happier death than slow poisoning! A sheet of newspaper will also attract snails and slugs, which can then be disposed of by dropping them into a bucket of heavily, salted water.
A protective circle of sawdust around new seedlings will stop snails from devouring them. Sawdust sticks to the snail's foot and stops it from slithering any further toward your plants. Don't use any pesticide that instructs you to wear protective clothing or gloves. Look for a less poisonous material.
Seaweed spray (see recipe') is a non-toxic organic spray that can be used to combat most fungal and bacterial plant infections. It also acts as a natural fertiliser.
Nasturtiums are a good companion plant and can be used to deter insects.
In a small garden, aphids can be dispatched simply by running your finger and thumb (encased in a garden glove) over infested branches and buds. If you can attract ladybirds to your garden, they will be your best means of aphid control as one ladybird will eat about 400 aphids a week.
Minor caterpillar invasions can be controlled by picking the offenders off by hand and stamping them briskly underfoot. However, if you have native birds in your garden, they will take care of both aphids and caterpillars.
White scale can be removed from roses by scrubbing the infested stems with a toothbrush and soapy water. Scale insects on indoor plants can be removed with a cotton bud dipped in tepid soapy water.
A homemade copper spray can be very effective and safer for the friendly insects in your garden and will help control fungal diseases. You can make your own copper spray relatively easily - refer to the recipe provided. It takes about 10 minutes. This mixture can be used with any spray equipment, but you may need to wash out the nozzle a few times to stop it clogging.
Only make up as much as you need. The spray has a short life and begins to separate after a couple of hours and loses its effectiveness. Making up a small volume also means that there is no spray liquids left lying around for children to find.
Copper spray is generally used over the winter months, often once a month. Any more often than this and you could get a copper build up in the soil.