This is my 4th year taking part in the Earth Hour, a global event aimed at raising awareness about sustainability issues.  This year, I have decided to write a daily post during the month leading to the event in order to share some thoughts about the environment and give tips the little changes we can make in our daily lives.  There will also be some guest posts by fellow bloggers who will share their own views on a topic related to the environment.  You can read my introductory post here and access the Earth Hour website here.

I encourage you to comment and share your own tips, ideas and experience.  In the last couple of days before the event I will do a few posts about what readers had to say.  I believe we can learn a lot by sharing!

As I discussed yesterday, your garden is a great place to start making a step towards helping and preserving the planet.  By growing your own veg and herbs, you can make a huge contribution to preserving the planet, as well as being sure to know where your food comes from and how it has been produced.

However, one is soon faced with problems: how to fight against various types of pests without using chemicals.  This is an area in which I am still experimenting and I haven’t found the perfect solution, but here are a few ideas.

Chicken wire over the veg patch

I have four cats and they have become my biggest problem when putting young plants in the ground.  No matter how much I love them, I don’t want to see them destroying my young plants by walking on them.  They love freshly-turned earth and will tend to go scratching and relieve themselves there, which drives me mad!  I have tried many things, amongst them citrus peels and ground black pepper, but these don’t seem to have any effect.  For the veg patch, I use some chicken wire on top of it, at least until the plants are strong enough, but it still remains a problem when I plant different varieties at different times.  I have also tried to put sticks around plants.  It kind of works if I put enough of them and if they are quite high, but it is quite tedious.  I must admit that I am a bit stuck for new ideas.  I read somewhere to make a chilli-based paste, so I might try that this year.  Do you have any other ideas?

Other big enemies in the garden are slugs.  They eat everything and have often destroy many of my plants, especially when young.  I now try to keep the young plants a bit longer inside, so that they are already strong when I plant them.  Again I have tried a few things: beer and coffee will attract them, so that might keep them away from your plants, but you cannot be assured that they will not go on them.  Seaweed can be an option and it is also a fertiliser; however, you need to use it sparsely as too much is not good for plants.  I have tried broken eggshells; I am still not sure if it worked or not.  A piece of plastic bottle is apparently effective, but I am not totally sure either.  I have also tried to spray the plants with water infused with garlic (apparently it also works against other pests), but I remain skeptic.  This year I will try copper tape around pots and the veg patch; I tried it last year, but didn’t do it properly.  The thing is that I tend to try everything at the same time and never figure out which solution works best.  My main problem is with the courgette plant as it is in the middle of the garden and so spread that the slugs will usually find their way on it.  Any suggestions?

I haven’t experienced many problems with other pests or maybe I am just not experienced enough at identifying them.  I know that you should not plant beans two years in a row in the same place.  Planting onions or chives will also keep certain aphids at bay. 

Steph mentioned that her problem is with rabbits, which is something I don’t have to worry about with my four cats.  I know certain people who actually got cats in order to protect their plants from rabbits!  Maybe protecting the plants with chicken wire would help?

I have never used fertiliser for any of my outside plants and veg.  However, when I get the ground ready, I use my homemade compost mixed with a bit of seaweed.  Making your own compost bin is fairly easy and you don’t need an elaborate one if you have a small garden.  Just make a square with a few planks and divide it in two so you can alternate every year.  This will also allow you to recycle organic matter.

Homemade compost bin

Weeds can also become a nightmare and pulling them out can use a lot of your time.  The best is to do it regularly and when the weeds are still young.  However, if you want to get rid of weeds before you have planted anything in  the ground, you can pour boiling water on them, preferable the one you use for cooking in order not to waste any water.

Finally, make sure you water your garden in the evening, once the sun has set down.  Try to collect as much rain water as possible.  It has also been suggested to me to collect the water at the beginning of your shower or bath when it is warming up; it shall try that!

Water tank

You will find your own techniques in order to be eco-friendly with your garden.  I would be glad if you could share them with me!