10 Tips for Eco Friendly Cottage Gardening
1. Ladybugs and lacewings eat aphids such as blackfly that destroy crops, so plant bright flowers such as candytuft, sunflowers and marigolds, and create places where these bugs can shelter and lay their eggs.
2. Birds eat slugs, snails, grubs, caterpillars and other pests that destroy plants. Put up birdfeeders and nesting boxes (including those you have made) to encourage more to visit.
3. Companion planting, where two or more plants are grown close together, can sometimes help to ward off pests. Marigolds are believed to deter flying insect pests and soil pests from nearby crops. Grow a variety of plants to prevent one crop from being devastated by pests or disease.
4. Slugs and snails can be formidable pests. Around containers, a band of copper, water-displacement spray or petroleum jelly can deter them. Barriers such as grit and crushed eggshells scattered around plants can also be tried. Slug pellets that are not harmful to wildlife or children are the most reliable controls.
5. Sticky yellow sheets are great for flying insects. To catch slugs, sink yogurt cups filled with milk or beer into the ground, or leave some hollowed-out grapefruit halves around your plants.
6. Set up a compost bin. Make sure it’s in a warm, partly sunny site on top of some soil. A mix of vegetable peelings, garden waste and fibrous woody brown material like paper or cardboard provide the right conditions for encouraging compost-making bugs. The rich, nutritious compost will be ready to use after six to nine months.
7. Worm composting for small spaces. Set up a home for some small, red tiger worms, which you can buy. Be sure to use a wooden box with holes and a lid for a worm compost bin. Add a layer of moist, shredded newspaper and soil for their bedding, and then feed them once a week with vegetable peelings wrapped in newspaper or paper towels. Every two or three months, the rich, fine compost will be ready to use.
8. Compost tea fertilizer. Although very smelly, compost tea is great as a natural fertilizer. Make your own by filling a small bucket 1/4 full of homemade compost and adding water to the top. Leave for three days, and then strain the mixture through cheesecloth into another bucket. Dilute the liquid with water before spraying. Only make enough for what you’ll need that day.
9. Plastic bottles can be reused in many ways around the garden. Cut off the bases and use them as warm, protective covers over seedlings or poke holes in their lids and use as a sprinkling watering device over seeds. You can also make a homemade propagator by using a bottle.
10. Recycle all kinds of everyday packaging and old plastic and wooden containers as pots for plants. Smaller containers can be used to get seeds started and then, once the seedlings become established, they can be transplanted into larger containers.