In an ideal world we would all buy just the right amount of fertiliser, garden disinfectant, weed-killer, insecticide, fungicide, or whatever that we need, and the garden shed wouldn’t fill up with leftovers.
But of course life isn’t that simple. However, you can minimise the problem without any effort by using ready-to-use bottles and sprays.
These are formulated to stay fresh, usually for at least two years, so you can carry on using them until they are all gone.
Then, simply rinse out the container (if it isn’t sealed) and throw it away with the appropriate household waste. However, if like me you use concentrated chemicals designed for diluting, what are you supposed to do with the ever-increasing array of leftovers that seem to gather in the tool shed?
First, sort out the ones that you can still use.
These will be less than two years old, which still have their labels and full instructions, and do not contain banned ingredients. Garden chemicals are constantly reviewed for a variety of reasons and some products will be withdrawn from sale. So, if they are older than two years (check the date of manufacture), have no label, or there is anything else that gives you cause for doubt, turf them out!
What do you do with them?
Well, you certainly DO NOT tip them down the drain, sink or toilet, or into streams or ponds (or, even bury them, as did one gardener I came across!)
For small amounts: less than 125 ml / 5 fl.oz; the recommendation is to dilute them as instructed and to spray, water or spread them onto bare soil or a gravel path, well away from ponds and wildlife. But remember, although insecticides and fungicides will have no detrimental effect disposed of in this way, some weedkillers can leave the soil unusable for up to a year.
Larger amounts of chemicals are officially considered to be ‘difficult household waste’ and you should contact the Council’s Waste Disposal Department, or the Environmental or Pollution Officer for advice on how to dispose of them.
My four simple rules for all garden chemicals are:
* Keep them in their original containers, tightly closed or resealed. NEVER transfer any product to another container: besides being dangerous, it’s a criminal offence!
* Keep them dry, cool but frost-free and out of sunlight
* NEVER store garden chemicals a greenhouse and, for safety’s sake, keep them well out of the reach of children and pets – the best place is a lockable cupboard in a dry shed or garage.
* If you read the instructions on the label and follow them you will not go wrong. Use only the quantities recommended – pesticides are formulated to work best at the right dose. Using more is wasteful, unsafe and could be damaging to the plant itself.