“Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret,” says Horace. You can
drive Nature out with a pitchfork, but she will always return. I don’t know about you, but I am inclined to lend a respectful ear
to a man who had the good sense to run away from the battle of
Philippi.

Two thousand years later, unruly, recalcitrant Nature
is still invading your garden. The modern equivalents of the pitchfork
are, I suppose, the gruesome armoury of horticultural chemicals –
pesticides, fungicides, and postemergent herbicides. Of course these are
all safe to use….though more and more of them are being made illegal,
several are already illegal in other countries and perhaps we should
not take the so-called ‘cocktail effect’ too seriously, but  I suspect
that the first man who combined charcoal, sulphur and saltpetre was in
for quite a shock. As I say, all quite safe. They will drive nature out
of your garden for you. And next year, she will be back, and you can do
it all again.

  There is another way of coping, and it involves working with the natural world, not against it.
Thrushes, hedgehogs and ducks will eat your slugs and snails: ladybirds
and blue tits will make short work of your aphids. I mention this now
because January and February are usually our coldest months, and the
relationship between volume and surface area is bad news for small birds
in winter. 

Their need for food is thus greatest when food is hardest to
find, so this is a good time to pay for an important aspect of your ecosystem services. Of course there are other good reasons for feeding the birds, relating
to aesthetics, sentiment, and biodiversity. However, if you have used up
your spare cash and finer feelings over the Christmas period, remember
this. A family of blue tits can eat 100.000 or so greenfly in one year.
If you want a family, of course, you’d better put up a nestbox, too.

Our thanks to Jon Gunson of TTL for his Winter gardening tips.

Take a look at the TTL L&OVe group page for further information on working with the natural world.