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At one with nature for a healthier garden this new year

WELL, it's that time of year where we start thinking about 10 New Year's Resolutions. Here are some for gardeners.

1. Limit the use of chemicals

If you see holes in leaves, look for the culprits and remove them. I usually squash them. Problem solved. Likewise, if you see a few leaves that are showing signs of pest or disease, remove them, seal them in a plastic bag and put them in the rubbish bin. If this doesn't work and you do need to spray, choose the softest option available to you. Ask the staff at your local garden centre for help.

2. Banish weeds from your garden

You can discourage weeds by mulching heavily and planting densely. Remove any that do appear immediately, before they get out of hand or go to seed, creating a bigger problem. Sometimes the weeds growing between pavers can be difficult to pull out. Try pouring boiling water on them to kill them in situ. This is most effective on soft, young plants.

3.Grow more food

Include at least one ingredient from your garden at every meal. It can be as simple as a few lettuce leaves.

4. Nurture the soil

The soil is the gardener's best friend. Look after it, and your plants will pretty much look after themselves. Add organic matter whenever you plant, and replenish it a couple of times a year by using a layer of mulch.

5. Go natural

Use fertilisers based on natural ingredients like blood and bone, manure and compost instead of chemical fertilisers. Don't use more than the recommended rate - it's wasteful and can harm the plants you are trying to help.

6. Start composting

You can turn kitchen and garden waste into food for your soil. There are lots of different ways to do it, just choose one and get started.

7. Attract beneficial insects

Ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies, bees and all sorts of other insects are good for your garden. They help with pollination, and with keeping pests under control. Plant food for them, limit the use of pesticides, and they will come.

8. Work smarter, not harder

Work in the cool of the morning or late afternoon, or in the shade, when you can. Invest in good quality tools and equipment that will make it easier for you.

9. Don't be afraid to outsource.

If you find the heavier work like mowing, mulching and pruning difficult, consider getting someone in to do that. Keep the fun stuff for yourself, though.

10. Enjoy your gardening

It's so good for the body and the mind, as well as the planet. May 2015 bring you much satisfaction in your garden.

Maree@edenatbyron.com.au



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