The benefits of organic gardening are examined by Iris Jardine
That is organic gardening, and what do you have to do to your garden? According to the organic organisation HDRA, it is possible to garden productively, effectively and attractively without using chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Organic gardening can be applied to all areas of the garden, from lawns to shrubberies and window sills. It is about feeding the soil's living creatures so that they can improve its structure and fertility, which in turn leads to healthy plant growth.
It is also about recycling to prevent loss and wastage of plant foods, and to replace chemicals such as artificial fertilisers and pesticides with more natural products. Soil living creatures break down compost, manure and other organic materials that are added to provide a steady supply of nutrients for plants to take up.
An important benefit of organic gardening is to create the right environment to attract the type of creatures that will keep pests under control.
Building a compost heap is easy. A good container should have thick walls, and be made from wood, breeze blocks, solid plastic or bricks. Keep the heat in and the rain out.
It is not just lawn mowings or fallen leaves that can be put in it, but also vegetable waste from the kitchen, bedding from vegetarian pets, feathers and paper.
The use of animal manure is, in general, an integral part. If, however, you have an aversion to this, it is still possible to garden organically. Do be aware, however, that an item can be labelled as organic as long as it is of living origin.
Storing pesticides can be a problem, with over 90% of reported human poisoning incidents occurring in the home.
By recycling and re-using elements in the garden, even weeds can be put on a compost heap you are not burning or dumping while, at the same time, creating an environment for wildlife to flourish.
PLANT GARLIC Buy recognised varieties such as Thermidrome or Printanor.
SOW some oriental salad greens, such as mizuna and 'green in the snow'. Protect with cloche in colder regions.
COLLECT fallen leaves and store to make leaf mould. Collect leaves on the lawn by running the mower over them.
PLANT fruit trees and bushes.
DON'T CUT all herbaceous plants down to the ground. Beneficial insects, such as ladybirds and spiders, welcome the shelter provided by stems and foliage.
SOW hardy annuals outside for an early flowering next year. Calendula (pot marigold) and Limnanthes douglassi (poached egg plant) are useful flowers that feed beneficial insects such as hoverflies.
SCRUB OUT greenhouse with hot soapy water. Hose down with a strong jet of water.
TAKE THE NET OFF the top of fruit cages to allow birds in. They will help clean up any overwintering pests.
CHECK TREE TIES to make sure they are not damaging plants.
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