Prevention is better than cure:
Choose pest-resistant plant varieties and keep plants healthy to give them the resources to fight off infections themselves. This helps to limit the need for additional controls.
Match the hammer to the nail:
Use the safest controls first and escalate only if necessary. Companion planting, physical removal, biological controls and barrier methods can all be investigated before opting for a pesticide.
Avoid the worst offenders:
If you wish to use chemical pesticides, avoiding ‘systemic’ or ‘translocated’ products will do some good. These pesticides are absorbed by the plant and work from the inside out, meaning they cannot be washed off produce before we eat it and get into nectar and pollen. This causes potential problems for pollinators.
Apply with care:
If using any pesticide, avoid spraying on open blooms where pollinators land. Limit its spread by avoiding spraying plants on a windy day. And always follow the instructions on the label to protect yourself during application.
If you’re worried that completely organic gardening is overly difficult, why not go part way there? Going organic for produce that you eat in its entirety, e.g. courgettes as opposed to carrots, will limit the amount of residue on the skin of homegrown food. This will reduce the impact on visiting wildlife.