Getting Started with Eco-Friendly Gardening

Written by Ilke
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Spring is in the air and slowly our outdoor work in the garden or on the balcony starts again. How to do it respecting nature, environment and not to forget, ourselves? Here are some ideas to choose from:

Photo by .imelda on flickr!Try to encourage a diversity of species of plants and animals: make hiding places for animals then they will come automatically, check with your local garden centre which plants are local/domestic and which plants attract butterflies, bees and birds (or get some inspiration and order online from e.g. www.vivara.be), maybe even get organic seeds and plants (e.g. www.ecoflora.be);

Have you thought of giving enough space to spontaneous nature? Wild life loves it, and nature often tells you which plants thrive best in your garden! Choose ground covering plants to discourage weed, or have a look at www.cecotec.be to find and order tools to control weed;

Please do not use chemical pesticides, but try to find alternatives: e.g. spray (eco-friendly) dishwashing soap or nettle “tea” (insect pests), and even boiled rhubarb leaves (against slugs) or eco-friendly products like from e.g. EcoStyle (more general info www.pesticides.org);

Also try to avoid chemical fertilisers, and use eco-friendly alternatives: compost (from your own kitchen waste), manure, kelp, bone meal, rock mineral fertilizer, etc.;

Many people choose to get their own free compost with a compost heap, a bin or a wormery (to be found in your local garden centre or e.g. at Nature et Decouvertes shops), Sunbeams will organize an English workshop on composting in May or June (see our Events Calendar for dates and enrolment) and see our article on composting in May 2009;

Try to reduce the use of water e.g. by collecting rainwater to water your garden (to be found in your local Brico, garden centre, Metro or Nature et Decouvertes) – some communes subsidies water collecting systems like e.g. green roof tops - and see our challenge on water usage in June 2009;

Why not go for eco-friendly garden furniture? You can choose wooden garden tables and chairs with FSC labels (now available in many shops, eg Brico and Gamma: a complete list to be found on www.wwf.be ), choose for a natural hedge (bushes or wood) instead of an iron fence (for ideas have a look at e.g. www.castanea.be or send them an email in English on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to find their sales addresses; or check out “Groene Guy” for magical fences, for contact details see our website under Useful Addresses, Garden) and find some lovely garden lights based on solar energy (e.g. Nature et Decouvertes);

There are many eco-friendly tools: choose tools without a motor (or one using little energy!), tools of good quality and take well care of them (you can order tools on-line from e.g. www.vlaamszaadhuis.com or www.cecotec.be or to be bought at your local garden centre), try to share the cost and usage of tools with friends and neighbours;

Maybe you can learn how to do ecological lawn care: buy a bio fork (“woelvork/grelinette”, e.g. Guerliu,) to plough and prepare the soil manually before sewing or use a corer (“verticuteermachine/scarificatrice”) to aerate the soil, use compost and eco-friendly moss products (e.g. EcoStyle, VertiGazon), water correctly, and do not cut the grass too short (+7cm)!  For more info see www.pesticides.org;

And why not eat organic herbs, fruit, and vegetables from your own garden? They could not be more fresh and rewarding to eat! Your children would love to be part of it and if you have a surplus, it can be used as the perfect gift!

See our address section for eco-freindly garden centers and gardners.

For more info: see www.ibgebim.be, www.velt.be, www.vlaco.be , www.ovam.be , www.natuurpunt.be, www.natagora.be

This article can be found in the March 2009 edition of the Sunbeams Newsletter.

 

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