Gardening: Celebrate World Environment Day on Sunday
TOMORROW is World Environment Day, one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment. It is a good opportunity to think about what we can do, both at home and in the broader community, to contribute to a better world.
This year's theme for WED, Go Wild for Life, encourages you to celebrate all those species under threat and take action of your own to help safeguard them for future generations.
This can be about animals or plants that are threatened within your local area, as well as at the national or global level - many local extinctions will eventually add up to a global extinction.
Whoever you are and wherever you live, show zero tolerance for the illegal wildlife trade and make a difference.
We can all make a positive difference to the environment through simple things like using water wisely, planting more trees and shrubs, and avoiding the use of chemicals.
Every drop of water is precious, so we need to be disciplined with our water use both inside and outside the home. Make sure plants are thirsty before you water. Consider installing a rainwater tank. Nurture your soil by using plenty of organic matter and mulch. This helps save water, produce healthier plants and suppress weed growth.
Include local native plants in your garden to provide food and shelter for indigenous birds and other animals. But bear in mind that some exotic plants are also very attractive to native fauna.
Dispose of unwanted plants and prunings responsibly. Don't dump them in bushland and waterways as they can take root and grow, suppressing native vegetation.
Avoid plants which are known to be potential environmental weeds in your area.
Limit your use of chemicals by choosing organic fertilisers and working on healthy soil to produce healthy plants. Companion planting helps limit pest invasions in the vegetable garden. If you do find you have a problem with pests or diseases, check out what organic solutions are available. There are plenty of resources online or you can seek advice at your local independent garden centre.
At my garden centre, we have started using traps to control insects such as whiteflies and citrus leafminer. The traps are inexpensive and work 24 hours a day. We have experienced a significant reduction in pest activity since installing the traps and we haven't inadvertently caught any beneficial insects. I'd recommend both the sticky yellow traps and the citrus leafminer traps as a simple, cost-effective pest-control solution for home gardeners.
Use lawn clippings, prunings, newspapers and kitchen scraps to create your own compost, which you can then use as soil conditioner and mulch. Just about anything that is made from natural fibres can be composted.
Remember, our environment starts in your backyard.
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