Casual Gardener: Old time techniques back in in fashion

Some timeless gardening remedies are back in fashion once again...

Aphids can be dispensed with a homemade mixture of vegetable oil and washing-up liquid

IT SEEMS we have finally reached tipping point. After decades of a small but vocal minority highlighting the benefits of gardening with nature rather than against it, the tide finally appears to be turning.

Across the media, the focus is on wildflowers rather than pristine green lawns, while pesticides are being spurned in favour of bug hotels.

Of course, there is nothing new in this environmentally-friendly approach, which is as old as gardening itself. Before big agro-chemical conglomerates started telling us that a healthy garden could only be achieved with the help of chemicals, our ancestors used a range of natural methods.

It is these old-school techniques that horticulture experts from online garden storage retailer have assembled to highlight how some of the best solutions to creating and maintaining a natural, healthy garden can be found around the house.

:: Make your own moss

A cheaper alternative to buying moss, blend together equal parts of moss and buttermilk or yoghurt to produce a liquid which can be applied on almost anything. Moss should appear within weeks and looks great when painted on stone walls and walkways.

:: Check the soil with your skin

Before tech had been developed to pinpoint the perfect soil temperature for spring-time gardening, this old wives' tale offered guidance to many:

If you want to know when to sow, take your trousers off and sit on the ground. Plainly speaking, the advice is to feel the bare soil with tender flesh. If uncomfortable this would signal that the soil is not warm enough to start planting in spring. Later on, people used their elbows.

:: Onion juice

Caterpillars are notorious for munching on homegrown veggies. Instead of splashing out on chemical pesticide, which is filled with nasty toxins, consider a more natural approach made from ingredients in the kitchen. Grate one onion, mix with water in a spray bottle, and spray your vegetable patch liberally.

:: Beer

Beer was once the go-to solution to deal with slugs and snails effectively. Just take a can or bottle of beer and pour it into shallow pans. The pests will crawl into the pans and drown themselves, then you just have to discard appropriately when done. This method avoids any unnatural additives being placed on the vegetables but still keeps them protected.

:: Vegetable oil

Pesky aphids feed on the sap from plants resulting in the plant becoming weakened, but they'll no longer be an issue thanks to this age-old homemade remedy. Just mix vegetable oil (1 cup) with washing-up liquid (1 tablespoon), and then once combined take 1 tablespoon of the liquid and mix with water (1 cup) proceed to spray generously on the plants.

:: Vinegar

Vinegar has long been regarded as the ultimate organic solution for killing off robust weeds. Simply mix with lemon juice for maximum results. It may depend on the concentration of the liquid, as diluted vinegar may not be as efficient. Pop by your local gardening centre and check what concentration they are using, and then mix at home.

:: Aluminium

In order to protect flourishing fruit trees, hang up aluminium pans in the midst of all the foliage, as the reflection of the sun will deter any birds from eating the produce. This is a simple, efficient and a cheap solution to an age-old problem.

:: Hair-waste

When cleaning your hairbrush, instead of throwing it in the bin, sprinkle the hair in and around the plants to keep rabbits away. This deterrent really does make the most of what you have without any possibility of harm to the animal and even better – it's free.

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