With Organic September just around the corner, Yeo Valley is asking people to put nature first and live more sustainably. By making small changes to our daily habits, such as buying organic more often or encouraging garden wildlife, including insects and birds, we can collectively make a positive impact on the natural environment. The six and a half acre, Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Blagdon, Somerset, is famous for its ornamental and edible plants which have been carefully curated over the past 18 years. Visitors to the garden can expect to see wildlife in abundance and dramatic blooms stretching into the autumn.


Here, Sarah Mead of Yeo Valley Organic Garden (opens in new tab), shares her top tips on how to create a pesticide-free garden.

  1. BE TOLERANT A pest is a delicious snack for someone, so don’t be too hasty to wipe them out. By tolerating your pests you are providing a valuable food source for your predators. Patience is a virtue with organic gardening and although it may take mammoth self-control, give your predators a meal and they will do the work for you. See:How to plant a fragrant garden – five plants for year-long aromatic pleasure
  2. FEED YOUR BIRDS WISELY Here at Yeo Valley Organic Garden we feed the birds generously throughout the winter when they most need it. But remove the feeders in spring, to encourage them to focus on eating our pests.
  3. GIVE YOUR PLANTS TOUGH LOVE Don’t over cosset your youngsters and certainly don’t put them out into the vegetable patch until they are big and strong enough to survive an influx of slugs. A baby lettuce is nectar to a slug and an attack by cabbage whites will completely destroy a brassica. Here we try to grow everything in pots until they are are big enough to thrive.
  4. REUSE COFFEE GROUNDS We have tried various methods of ‘barrier control’ in the case of slugs and snails and have found two methods to be effective. Sprinkling coffee grounds (not decaf) around precious plants in a generous circle seems to work well for us. We also recommend copper rings, but you can make your own by buying the copper from a roofing supplier by the roll which is a much cheaper alternative.
  5. COVER UP When in doubt, cover your brassicas with a fine horticultural mesh. Make sure its tight and hole free, those butterflies are very determined… See:Wildlife garden ideas, from The National Trust’s garden experts Yeo Valley Organic Garden, yeovalley.co.uk