If you share our passion for greener gardening then this is the blog for you. Our green fingered gardeners are here to share their seasonal hints and tips on how to create the perfect garden, using ecofective’s natural solutions range.
Ask any gardener what are the worst pests they come across in the garden and it’s pretty much guaranteed that slugs will be up there – in fact, slugs came second in the list of the UK’s top pests in 2018, according to the RHS.
Just at the time that we’re ready to plant out young plants is one of the most ideal times for slugs – the weather is warmer, yet we’re still getting the rain. As they do most of their damage under cover of darkness, it’s only the morning after that you find the slime trails pointing to damaged, eaten plants. They tend to not be that picky either – their dinner menu can contain salad leaves, strawberries, any cabbage family, plus marigolds, dahlias, hostas and soft herbs.
It always used to be a challenge to remain eco-friendly at the same time as protecting plants from slugs. The traditional blue slug pellets contain Metaldehyde which is extremely dangerous to wildlife such as hedgehogs, amphibians and wild birds – exactly the group of wildlife we want to encourage in our garden. Use of Metaldehyde will be banned totally from next Spring, and sales will be banned from this summer, 2019.
We have a solution, though, which is eco-friendly and highly effective. ecofective® Slug Defence is a physical, non-toxic barrier which prevents slugs and snails from getting close to your plants in the soil or in pots. The white granules dry quickly, and stay effective even after rain or watering.
If you do have a particularly serious slug problem, then ecofective® Ferrimax® Slug Killer might be the answer. This contains a natural active ingredient, Ferric Phosphate and is approved for organic gardening, working well with flowers and vegetables.
Of course, it’s still a good idea to be preventative – slugs can get everywhere and seem to enjoy laying eggs in pots so we make a particular point of cleaning pots before we use them.
Planting where there are fewer places for slugs to hide helps protect your tender plants so raised beds offer better protection and giving small vegetable plants enough space around them helps, as does planting out in full sun when the soil is warm.
A worldwide decline in bee populations is ringing alarm bells as fears grow over how our food will be pollinated if bees die out. According to the British Beekeepers’ Association, a third of our food is dependent on pollination by bees, with up to 70 crops in the UK relying on bees for successful pollination. However, bee-keepers across Europe have reported winter colony losses in excess of 50% in recent years – a figure that is causing widespread concern among wildlife experts.
There are a host of factors blamed for bee decline, including pesticide use, climate change, a parasitic mite called varroa that attacks bee colonies, and habitat loss (the UK has lost more than 97% of its wildflower meadows since the 1940s).
ecofective offer a range of Child, Pet and Bee Safe plant care products for gardeners who want to attract more bees into gardens in a bid to safeguard the future of these vital pollinators.
Top ecofective bee safe products
ecofective® Bug + Mildew Control is a ready-to-use formula that provides fast-acting control of a wide range of pests, including whitefly, blackfly, red spider mite and mealybug, while taking care of powdery mildew by washing away spores. The clever formulation, which is safe to use around bees, pets and children, also provides plants with nutrients for healthy growth and uses a physical mode of action which stops plant pests in their tracks, preventing bugs from moving and being able to feed. A key advantage of ecofective® Bug + Mildew Control’s physical mode of action is that plant pests will not become resistant to the formula. And no harvest interval is required, meaning that home-grown produce can be eaten within hours of application.
Gardeners can also use ecofective® Rose Defender to protect the nation’s favourite flower from attack without any worries about harming bees. The ready-to-use product’s 3-in-1 defender technology controls bugs, powdery mildew and provides nutrients for vibrant, healthy roses, while the pesticide-free formulation is safe to use around bees, children and pets.
ecofective® Houseplant Defender, which is perfect for indoor plants but can also be used on flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetables in the garden, is another bee-friendly product in the ecofective stable that’s safe to use around bees. The ready-to-use pesticide-free spray gives excellent control of pests including whitefly, aphid, red spider mite, mealybug, scale and psyllid, while the formula provides foliar nourishment to encourage healthy, vibrant houseplants. It stimulates the development of more flowers, too.
To view the complete range of bee safe products click here.
The best bit about Easter has to be the opportunity to spend a good amount of time in the garden – and with Easter being later this year one of the most exciting things we have planned is a shopping trip to our local garden centre for some plants.
In our garden, we sometimes end up with a plant that could do better in another spot. It’s better to get them in the right place to start with than moving plants later. This is all about factors such as light and shade, and moist or well-drained soil, and when buying plants, you’ll normally find these details on the label. Also check to ensure there are no thick roots circling around a container grown plant – unless you know how to deal with these it may be better to choose a different plant. A few roots protruding from the bottom of the pot are a sure sign the plant is ready to be transplanted into a bigger space but cut them cleanly if you break them when you remove the pot.
Before digging a hole, consider how large your plant will grow and check the hole depth by placing the plant in its pot to check the soil will finish at the same level the plant was growing before. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole with a fork so the roots will find their way quickly and stabilise the plant.
To give plants an added boost, we use ecofective® Rootplus 3 in 1, sprinkling 3 scoops into the new hole, making sure that the roots will be touching the feed, and water it in well. The 3 aspects which make Rootplus so effective are mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria which help promote strong development of the root systems; a water retainer meaning a reduced need for watering; and a fertiliser to help better establishment.
Getting the watering right is vital. If you’re planting into heavy clay, as our garden is, don’t be tempted to add a water retaining compost to the planting hole otherwise water can become trapped and the roots of the plant can suffocate. You may need to water more frequently especially during warm weather while your plant gets established because if it dries out the leaves will scorch.
Some nursery bought plants are raised in a heated greenhouse and will benefit from being allowed to acclimatise to your cooler garden and build up strength against the force of the wind. It’s a good idea to place them in a sheltered spot for a while prior to planting them out.
In our greenhouse, we’ve sown lettuce seeds in short rows and sprinkled a little Rootplus along the drill, to help them on their way. Unlike some products – hoof and horn springs to mind – Rootplus is vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Some of our paths have amassed a covering of moss over the winter. In its place, such as on old walls, it can look great, but we don’t want a green blanket of moss and weeds on all our walkways. This year, we’ve used ecofective® Weed + Moss Killer on our hard surfaces, to great effect. It’s certainly fast acting – within a matter of days, moss and weeds turned from green to brown, making them easy to remove (or they’ll continue to disperse over time). We’d expect even faster results on sunnier days, but because this product is not temperature reliant it meant we could start using it at the start of the season even during the cold snaps. Make sure, though, not to use this on your lawn.
As always we are keen to be as green as we can in our garden. ecofective® glyphosate free weed killers use ecologically sound ingredients, such as acetic acid which are effective at tackling stubborn weeds but leave no residual weed killer in the soil.
In the global scheme of things, of course what we do as individuals may have a very miniscule impact, but we think it important to do our bit as much as we can. I’m sure we’re all aware of the environmental dangers to mammals, birds and reptiles, but bees, ants and beetles are disappearing a staggering eight times faster. Insects are such a fundamentally critical part of the world’s ecosystem that the disappearance of just some species are expected to have catastrophic impacts on how we produce food. With 40% of insect populations in decline according to a new study in The Guardian, we’re wanting to do whatever we can to help them on our small plot of earth and using environmentally sound garden care products is one way we can make a difference. We hope you agree!