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.
After all the hard work earlier in the season, this is now beginning to get to the time where you can sit back and enjoy the delights of your garden. Unfortunately, it’s also the time when bugs and diseases like powdery mildew can detract from the splendour, so we have some tips on how to tackle these problems – without using harsh chemicals. One of our mantras is ‘healthy soil makes healthy plants’, so we are keen to create good soil, either in the beds or pots and containers. Try and ensure that soil in pots gets the chance to dry out between watering, as this reduces the risk of Scarid flies making their home in your pots. Hoeing is one of my favourite tasks, and this tilling of the soil helps reduce weed growth around plants, also bringing any pests which lurk under the topsoil to the surface, a ready meal for the garden’s birds.
As you’ll know from previous blogs, we try and make our garden as wildlife friendly as possible. Ladybirds, frogs, hedgehogs, ground beetles plus the birds are excellent predators all of which help to control bugs like caterpillars, aphids and slugs so we like to encourage them. Making homes for our wildlife is a great task to give any children bored during the summer holidays – we have a number of home-made bird boxes and bug hotels around the garden, perhaps not all as neat as they could be, but all made by willing young hands!
When our wildlife can’t take care of the problem, we turn to ecofective® Bug and Mildew Control, which is suitable for indoor and outdoor plants. Common bugs like whiteflies, aphids, red spider mites, and mealybugs can be dealt with in an environmentally responsible manner, as this product doesn’t rely on conventional pesticide chemicals. Rather, it has a more physical method, containing a blend of surfactants which stops the pests from moving and being able to feed. Not only does this make it safe to use near pets and children, it is also not a threat for bees and wildlife.
This formulation is used by many professional growers and landscapers across the UK and Europe, on a variety of plants including ornamentals, fruit, vegetables and herbs. Because there is no harvest interval, produce can be eaten within hours after application. We are out early in the morning, or later in the evening to avoid using the spray in direct sunlight as we would run the risk of scorching our plants.
All of which means that we get the opportunity to enjoy our garden ourselves, instead of sharing it with unwanted bugs!
Our garden is in full swing right now, with our fruit, vegetables and flowers all romping away – which means we’re keeping a careful watch on the feeding they require to give us the best possible results. Feeding provides a balance of nutrients to help healthy plants grow. Without the correct food, plants are vulnerable to disease and growth problems – and this is particularly true of plants in pots as nutrients can just leach out of pots. Often, your plants will tell you if they need feeding, with signs including a yellowing or paling of leaves, slow or no growth, wilting of lower plant leaves, and root rot or brown edges on the leaves.
There are two main types of feed – mineralised feeds, which can leach from the soil more rapidly when there is run off of water, from either over-watering or a sudden downpour, and sugar based feeds which tend to stick to the root system better.
Our feed of choice is the ecofective® Organic Wonder Feed, an organic sugar based feed which contains a bio-stimulant that encourages plants to take up the nutrients quickly, giving a higher yield than other leading brands. For the technically minded, it has a Nitrogen Phosphorous Potassium (NPK) balance of 2-1-3. We find it easy to use, the 1.5 litre container makes up to 50 1-gallon watering cans, and of course the naturally derived ingredients have no negative impact on the environment and do not disrupt the important ecosystems.
To get the best yields from our fruit and veg garden, we feed regularly once a week through the growing season. Crops which are above the ground, such as tomatoes and strawberries, have a high water content and tend to be hungrier for food.
With plants in our greenhouse, most are grown in containers and have no access to naturally occurring nutrients, so some of these we feed twice a week.
For our outside pot plants and baskets, we make sure that we give them a good water before feeding, so that the goodness in the feed is not washed out of the pots straight away. Here’s hoping for a bumper harvest this summer!
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.
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!