As a professional horticulturist monitoring pests and diseases both in the garden and on crops is a daily routine, just as amateur gardeners check there prized vegetables and plants while tending to their garden. Horticulturists would often compile spray schedules during the winter months, hours calculating and planning next years spray programme for fungicide and pesticides, not to mention the cocktail of herbicides for weed control. Fortunately a cultural shift means times are changing and over the last few years we have been educated of the potential damage and ecological imbalances that are the result of using toxic chemicals unnecessarily.
Large gardens and estates like the one I manage are required to keep a chemical store under lock and key to avoid mishaps and potential accidents from occurring, I am proud to say that more often than not our chemical cupboard remains locked and our need to use or replenish our stock of by placing orders from chemical companies is a rare occurrence.
The reason for this is directly due to the desire and demand for cultural control of both pests and diseases in our gardens, no longer are we willing to treat everything with liberal dousing of the latest chemically enhanced product to kill this and control that.
Previously blind-sided by big chemical conglomerates to believe that chemical usage on our land, in our homes and on our plants was going to save us time and money, increase our yields and better our harvests. Yet in reality we have come to learn that very little of this is in-fact true!
In my opinion cultural techniques, good old-fashioned hand weeding, cleaning around and removing diseased material from a plant, squashing the odd pests or washing leaves with a soapy solution far out ways many chemical application that A: Often needs to be repeated throughout the year and B: Pests and disease become resistant to. In-reality our ancestors knew what they were doing long before chemicals flooded the marketplace and kept things in check quite nicely thank you!
Our in-balance of chemical usage and over fertilising of the land leads to irreparable damage to our surroundings, wildlife, bees and
insects all of which if left to forage would help control any pest or disease outbreak, without fear or retribution. Far-fetched you might say! But have you ever watched as ants scurry along branches to harvest the latest infestation of juicy green-fly? Worker ants carrying them away to their nest to feed or ladybirds descended to control black fly on a fruit tree.
Native birds feeding from the branches of trees and pecking away at the bark for a tasty morsel.
We are learning that nature can provide us with all the tools necessary to defend our crops and by clever planning and foresight not only can we save money but we can play a part in saving our environment.
“The desire to save money, improve the quality of our food and cleaner living all play’s apart in this cultural shift, no longer does the consumer wish to purchase chemically enhanced crops preferring to grow their own or purchase from farmers markets for local seasonally available organic produce.”
This change of attitude is affecting they way we think, how we shop and where we buy our food and in turn it is having a knock on effect for the industry. Gardening is more about healthy living, a healthier lifestyle and staying fit than ever before. New career paths are opening for people looking to Gardening as a therapeutic pastime, helping people make positive choices about the way they live and the air they breath.
Chemical companies will have to adapt their philosophies, no longer can they rely on consumers to purchase their products without valid trace ability and ecological sound products to ensure we stop polluting our green and pleasant lands.
Stephen raised on a farm in Mid Wales, trained in horticulture under apprenticeship with the National Trust and has worked in several prestigious locations around the world. Today as Head gardener for a large private estate on the outskirts of London, Stephen is a keen plantsman, horticulturalist and nature lover. Managing large formal gardens, growing a huge range of fruit, vegetables and homemade produce for the estate residents. Stephen with assistance from a team of professional garden and farm staff, cares for livestock, including cattle, sheep, poultry and horses, completes property maintenance and grounds management.
Stephen believes knowledge is to be shared and thanks to some amazing mentors in his career path hopes to be able to share this knowledge with gardeners like you and your gardening friends! All he asks in return is that you find the time to leave a brief comment and share socially with your friends.