When I first started studying horticulture professionally in 2015, I was full of positivity and excitement for gardening, doing something that so many people love and being around nature, it was wonderful. But as time went on and I learnt more about both nature and growing, I began to see that the gardening I knew was not the gardening world being recommended in books, publications, garden centres and shops.
Gardening’s reliance on single use plastic waste was massive, most composts were dug from natural peat bog habitats and huge amounts of the sector’s money came from the promotion and sale of nature killing sprays and pellets.
Rather than being the best, gardening was one of the worst activities for nature, going outside and spraying wildlife directly with liquids to kill it. Kill an insect and you likely kill other insects like bees directly, you also kill what uses that insect as a food source, this could be other insects or it could be birds, bats, hedgehogs and other mammals, fungi, bacteria and more. The gardening world encouraged the killing of caterpillars that would later turn into the butterflies deemed acceptable.
Thankfully I am happy to write now that as the gardening world woke up to these things, many people were quick to jump into action to make things better. Plastic has been a brilliant example with lots of focus in only a few years from so many people and businesses doing wonderful things to either eliminate plastic completely or to make sure it is recyclable and sustainable. Peat composts are banned from sale to consumers from 2024 (for professional growers shortly after) and nature has finally taken a greater spotlight in gardening publications.
This is all fantastic news but there is one giant dying elephant in the room: pesticides.
One spray from a systemic or residual pesticide can kill hundreds of insects that touch a plant for weeks at a time
Most supermarkets, DIY shops and garden centres have shelves like this
Your town will be stocked with many shops churning out pesticides
Across the UK the volume of pesticides bought and sprayed every single year is contributing to catastrophic nature declines
41% of insects around the world are threatened with extinction, including due to use of pesticides, alongside habitat destruction and climate change (Wildlife Trusts).
We’ve seen a 68% decrease in population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and fish between 1970 – 2016 (The Living Planet Report 2020).
There is a wealth of experience that shows you can home garden successfully without non-organic pesticides, yet some people continue to rely on them, killing billions of insects each year, which also contributes to the deaths of birds, mammals and other life that need them.
I cannot stay quiet about this any longer.
I garden without any pesticides, they are not needed. All of today’s leading gardeners garden without pesticides.
Gardening, the act of growing plants for enjoyment or produce, does not need pesticides. Modern gardening techniques are organic and at one with nature. Understanding the science of nature to grow scientifically in the ways nature intended. Healthy soils and healthy ecosystems full of predators lead to healthy plants.
Professionals require training, assessment and a qualification to use pesticides, demonstrating just how dangerous these sprays are, to nature and us. And yet any one of the 50+ million adults in the UK can walk into Tesco, Asda, Lidl, B&Q etc and pick up as many bottles as they like. Causing untold damage to nature in the process.
No pesticide is needed, organic or non-organic, but as a start, it seems obvious to me that the non-organic pesticides, which include the worst systemic and residual chemicals (that stay on or in plant systems killing for longer) should be banned from sale, online and in person, to the general public.
Please, help to protect nature in this small way and help the gardening world finally and fully be the shining example it should be, sign the petition and let’s ban non-organic pesticides from gardens for good.