Book Review: Gardening to save the planet

Updated: Aug 23

Dave Goulson has a garden that sounds completely idyllic. Organic and stuffed to the brim with nature, it is a wildlife haven in a time when they are so desperately needed. In this book Goulson gives freely of his accumulated knowledge from building his own garden, to help you create your own wildlife haven in yours.

This book left me with a couple of strong impressions:


1. Pesticides in any form contribute/drive wholesale destruction of nature.


Goulson eloquently and deliberately gives you well-researched facts and figures that teach you about pesticide usage and the problems it generates. Not only do pesticides kill pretty much every living creature they touch, but they also poison the soil for years to come, may have adverse effects on our health (no one has been able to research these fully yet because they have only existed for around 80 years), are also lethal to aquatic life due to run-off and, if we are growing the right crops together, may not even be needed. He also reveals that 76% of the world's agricultural produce goes towards feeding animals bred for meat - not to feed us. So, if we ate less meat, that would mean more room to grow other crops for our consumption.


It's important to clarify here that, not only am I not an expert, hence the need to read this book, but that I also have a memory like a goldfish. I can not report the facts and figures, as Goulson does, to back up the point above, you'll just have to believe me, and possibly go an read the book for yourself, I promise, it's excellent and persuasive (I got mine from the local library, who are currently offering e-copies of the majority of their books for all of us stuck at home).


2. That even on a small scale, there are things we can do about this.


Yes, there are the usual things everyone suggests: buy organic, make hedgehog houses and bee hotels, but what I love about this book is that it is so much more in depth. It illustrates why bee hotels may not be the best thing for bees, and suggests myriad other things instead. It tells you how to build homes for newts, what flowers to grow for butterflies and bees, and to attract birds, and provides a framework for a timetable of crops, that can allow one small allotment to produce more food per square metre than large scale agricultural farming. It also devotes whole chapters to the importance of earwigs and worms, and I swear, if you read those chapters, you'll come out loving the little critters. (Also, just FYI, earwigs don't actually enjoy crawling into people's ears)


I found this book engrossing in its entirety, but you can't possibly do it all, there have to be some things that are a priority.


For me, I think the easiest thing is looking for plants that are organic (important, because those plants you find in supermarkets and large chain gardening centres?Probably sprayed with pesticides, which then leech into your soil. They're also more than likely not right for bees, even if they have those little 'perfect for pollinators' stickers on, they still contain pesticides, and some types have been deliberately bred to reduce the pollen and nectar, which will not attract those fluffy little insects we've all come to love.)


Goulson provides a list at the end of the book, and I've built a Pinterest board here so you can look them up yourselves and see what I've chosen for my garden. An excellent resource for organic plants (for me) has also been beehappyplants.co.uk.


There are so many other things you can do too. If you can leave a pile of wood in your garden somewhere, do it. If you can make space for a hedgehog home (doesn't have to be fancy, could be a pile of logs), then do, and most importantly: make sure they have a path through your garden! (I just spent the weekend cutting away the chicken wire the previous owners decided they needed to cover every fence with on their property. That was fun *sarcasm*). If you can drill holes into your fence posts, that might work nicely. If you can compost your leftovers, that helps food waste. Get an allotment and grow your own food . . . the list is endless.


I encourage you to read the book and find out for yourself. What would you do in yur garden? Let me know below!


Thanks for reading,


Nx







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Artist working out of Godstone, Surrey, United Kingdom

nicola@howellillustration.co.uk

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