Ditch the chemicals
Back to hand weeding, or simply leaving the weeds. Back to non-chemical pest control, or just accept that perfect vegetables don't exist in the wild!
The most important thing to help nature is to stop using toxic chemicals:
Ditch the Roundup!
What is it?
Roundup is a herbicide used for controlling weeds. The active ingredient in Roundup is glyphosate, a highly toxic chemical which weakens the immune system of insects making them more vulnerable to disease and therefore death. Glyphosate is also a known carcinogenic to humans, meaning that it may cause cancer when using it unprotected. Really not a nice thing to use!
Alternatives to Roundup
Hand weeding. We should change our idea of gardening a bit: why do we see watering as an essential gardening job, but not weeding? Just see weeding as another gardening job; it is very relaxing and you may even get a robin joining you (or the chickens if you have them!).
OR, let the garden do its own thing and stop weeding all together! After all: weeds are just native plants growing in their native environment.
Ditch the synthetic pesticides!
What is it?
The majority of synthetic pesticides contain chemicals called cypermethrin and permethrin, which are highly toxic to all insects, including bees and bumblebees, but also to fish and aquatic insects. When washed off the plants, it can enter the streams and rivers via runoff water, where it can then kill fish. It also not entirely know whether these chemicals are carcinogenic to humans too, so probably best to stay safe and don't use them.
Alternatives to pesticides
Accept that creatures only become a pest if there is no natural predator. How to attract natural predators, go to Bees & Insects
Also accept that 'perfect' vegetables and flowers don't exist in the wild.
A well-balanced ecosystem which supports a wide range of birds and insects will naturally control pests. Sometimes it means that one of your cabbages gets damaged, but usually the rest survives and you can just cut off the nibbled-on bits.
- By the way, protect your cabbages with very fine netting or fleece to keep cabbage white butterfly from laying their eggs on your plants. I always plant one or two leftover seedlings in between the ornamental flowers as I like butterflies and the cabbage white has a place in nature too.
- Plant nasturtiums in between your peas and beans as aphids will prefer the nasturtiums, leaving the beans and peas alone. And it looks pretty!
- Slugs can be a real problem in the UK, especially with dwindling hedgehog numbers. The RSPB has some very good advice on deterring slugs the chemical free way. Personally I have used Slug Wool Pellets, which worked quite well and is based on wool which when moistened creates a 'painful' barrier to slugs.