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Seven gardening tips to protect the environment and promote biodiversity

Gardening season begins in spring: Sowing, weeding, planting flowers and fertilising. With seven suggestions, we show how gardening can be as sustainable and insect-friendly as possible.

Gardening is for many people their favourite hobby. According to the Central Association of Horticulture, approximately five billion euros are generated every year by retail nurseries, garden centres and flower shops alone. But passionate hobby gardeners can also make serious environmental mistakes in the garden. The following recommendations will assist you in making your garden or balcony sustainable, while protecting the environment. Here's how.

1. Alternatives to chemical pesticides

Many chemical pesticides such as herbicides and insecticides are harmful to nature, wildlife and human health. These substances destroy sensitive “beneficial organisms,” become concentrated in the food chain and groundwater and damage soil organisms. But there are alternatives: Regular weeding and soil loosening protect soil life and increase the water storage capacity of the soil. Dense planting in the beds keeps weeds out. It is also desirable to plant beneficial organisms and use only mulch and natural pesticides. BUND provides some useful suggestions for organic plant protection in your own garden.

2. Organic fertiliser: making your own soil

Your own compost is the best fertiliser. It improves the soil and provides plants with valuable ingredients during their growth. This way, a lot of kitchen waste does not end up in the bin but gets reused in your own garden. The compost is best disposed of in wooden containers, which are more environment-friendly than plastic products. 

Artificial fertilisers (mineral and nitrogen), on the other hand, require an enormous amount of energy during production, and damage the soil in the long term. This is why it is better to use organic fertilisers such as compost, horn shavings, rock flour, manure, earthworm humus or herbal extract.

Organisches Duengemittel selber machenFoto: © - Kyle Ellefson

3. Peat-free soil protects the climate

Anyone who wishes to help protect the environment should use peat-free soil as a sustainable alternative to conventional gardening soil. Peat is a very valuable natural raw material, which is produced in extremely lengthy processes in moors. For conventional potting soil, which consists of 80 percent peat, moors have to be drained and dried. This causes irreparable damage, as the ecosystem of the moor regenerates only very slowly. It takes up to a thousand years for a layer of peat with a thickness of one metre to form. In addition, peat extraction releases large quantities of stored CO2. Peat-free soil can now be found in almost all DIY stores and gardening centres.

4. Beneficial organisms: protecting bees and their habitat

Many beneficial organisms need a safe place to live in our gardens, so be careful not to keep the garden too “clean”. Foliage and withered flowers provide shelter and food for the animals during winter. Indigenous perennials, bushes and flower remnants provide excellent food for birds and bees.

Some wild bees, which belong to our most important pollinators, place their eggs in tubes.  A so-called beneficial organism or insect hotel can easily be built using wooden blocks, but you can also find nesting aids for wild bees in DIY stores.

5. Buy native plants and seeds

The selective planting of different native growths and plants can provide honey bees, wild bees, butterflies and other insects with sufficient food throughout the year. It is also helpful to have a continuous range of flowers in which early, medium and late flowering species are planted. Local plants can be found in local nurseries, at weekly markets or in online shops.

Bienen retten Foto: © Pixabay

6. Use rainwater

Particularly during the summer months, plants need a lot of water. Rainwater is ideal for watering and easy to collect. A rain barrel in the garden is ideal for watering garden plants. There are special rainwater flaps for down pipes on gutters, which channel the valuable water directly into the barrel. Cisterns (underground water tanks) can store large quantities of rainwater and are even more effective.

7. Vegetable garden: eco-friendly helpers

Protective nets made of foil and plastic can be indispensable for vegetable gardens. But there are also alternatives: Covering gauze made of organic cotton is suitable as a crop protection net for pest control and frost protection. The net is reusable, biodegradable and leaves no residual waste behind. Instead of foil, garden mulch paper, biodegradable tunnel or mulch foil, based on cereal flour, can also be used.