How to create your own organic garden
There are many benefits to organic gardening for not only the gardener, but for wildlife and the environment too. This is especially true when growing your own vegetables and fruit. Simply put, organic gardening means growing and cultivating plants without relying on synthetic or chemical products for pest control, weeding, or fertilisation.
Many of us already use very few chemicals in our gardens and by making a few careful choices it is remarkably easy to cut out non-organic items completely and the benefits of doing so are countless.
- An organic garden is, by definition, one which is also more eco-friendly. As all elements used in an organic garden are natural, they won’t cause damage to earth, soil or waterways. This is all much better for the general environment too.
- Organic fertiliser can improve the quality of your soil over the long term. Conventional fertilisers tend to give an artificial burst of nutrients to your plants, and this is usually only temporary.
- Some studies shown that organically grown foods can be richer in nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts, so organic gardening can be particularly beneficial if you’re primarily growing edible produce.
- Growing your own organic food can be cheaper than buying at the supermarket!
- The key to a good garden, organic or otherwise, is to look after the soil. If your soil is good in heart, your garden will grow well. Make a compost heap and use an organic activator to help speed up the rotting process. The addition of compost will help to keep your soil in good shape.
- Use ‘green manures’ – a fertiliser made up of growing plants to plough back into the soil – in your vegetable garden by including them in your cropping plan. Green manures will help soil fertility by replacing some nutrients whilst they are growing as well as when they are dug back into the ground. Green manures make good ground cover and can also help to smother weeds.
- Use organic fertilisers. Organic ingredients are those that occur naturally and are not man-made, such as fish blood and bone and pelleted chicken manure. Both are quick acting – ideal to add when planting or sowing seed in the open ground, as well as being a great ‘pick me up feed’ for the overall health of the whole garden.
Caring for your organic garden
- Seeds do not like to sit in wet, cold soil so wait until there are signs that the soil is warming up before sowing. Early sowings that have had to struggle to germinate are often prone to disease, grow weakly and are overtaken by subsequent sowings made into warmer ground.
- Don’t feed plants with quick acting fertiliser too early or late in the year. In colder weather, there’s a risk any frost will damage any soft growth that has been encouraged by feeding.
- Monitoring the weather forecast is important for all gardeners, but organic gardeners will often need to act more quickly in certain conditions. For example, Greenfly (Aphids) will breed more quickly in humid, warm weather so it’s important for organic gardeners to be especially vigilant and remove these before their numbers build up.
- Companion planting, carried out to coincide with pest cycles, is also a really useful practice in organic gardens. Marigolds can deter whitefly, while other companion plants, such as sunflowers and Evening Primrose can encourage other insects to eat existing pests.
- You can prevent the spread of weeds by hoeing your garden as often as the weather allows. The soil surface should be dry and ideally the weather sunny so that weeds dry out once they have been hoed off.
- Make sure that weeds do not set seed by cutting them down before they get to this stage if they cannot be removed completely.
- Making your garden as wildlife friendly as possible will encourage pollinators and predators to help control pest numbers naturally and ensure good crop yields.
By following the advice above, you will be on the way to becoming an organic gardener. Your local Notcutts garden centre is full of organic products from seeds and compost to organic forms of pest control and ways to help encourage wildlife into your garden.