So what is organic gardening all about? Most gardeners would say it is – gardening without using artificially synthesised pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. That sounds pretty simple, but quite naturally there’s more to it - see below - What an organic gardener must do
Although for many, good tasting and healthy foods are the most attractive organic benefits, there are other important environmental benefits.
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Advantages to organic gardening
Not using artificial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides is only the start.
- Enjoy the wide diversity of garden insects, birds, and mammals otherwise affected by artificial gardens and pesticide use
- No need to buy, store, mix, water or spray potentially dangerous chemicals - even professionals with protective clothing have been affected
- Most people say organic vegetables taste better – don’t rely on artificial flavours to experience real tomato, or on canned food to discover real sweet corn
- Help save traditional plants by growing non commercial heritage varieties that have better taste bred into them, or have some rare special quality
- Get the health benefits of exercise in your garden and really fresh and tasty vegetables
- Stops waste and environmental pollution from excess soluble fertilizers - foul smelling ponds and rivers result as overgrowth uses up the oxygen and kills fish
- Increased soil organic matter reduces erosion, conserves water to give drought resistance, and feeds plants in time with their needs and avoiding excesses
- Recycle all your herbicide-free grass cuttings and other organic matter for your own benefit and reduce land-fill sites
- No pesticides go onto fruit, vegetables or herbs that you eat, or on flowers; or stealthy herbicidal growth regulators on the lawn that you play on
To make a success of organic gardening you must do some other things too... ...
What an organic gardener must do
- Rotate crops year on year – plants of the same family should not be grown in the same ground year on year. This avoids the build up of pests and nutrient imbalances. An example of a 4 group rotation is Legumes > brassicas > roots > potatoes
- Avoid planting up large areas with the same plants. Break up the growing space into small blocks where possible. The same crop may be dispersed over the whole area in unconnected blocks
- Grow food plants to sustain insect pest predators like ladybird larvae
- Grow plant companions, especially plants that repel insect pests
- Increase the variety of plants grown in every square metre
- Never leave ground bare, grow green manures to dig in or compost
- Make garden compost and add organic matter to the soil regularly, supplement with organic fertilizers
- Special techniques include adding shrubs for shelter, adding water for birds and frogs (slug predators), biological pest control, physical pest deterents, nest sites or flowers to attract bees, hoverflys etc...
- Control weeds with various types of mulch, by growing ground cover, and by hoeing and cultivating
Gardening doesn’t get more interesting than this. Teeming with life. Nothing compares with a naturally pure and beautiful garden.
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But isn’t all gardening artificial?
Well all gardening involves managing the natural environment. All gardeners desire to build from nature a pleasing environment in which to live and work. We aim to harvest and enjoy the flowers, fruit, veg or herbs of nature. To do this gardeners give special advantage to a few chosen plants.
Yes, some plants and animals are weeds or pests and do need to be controlled. But organic gardeners find a better solution comes by working with nature. Their emphasis is on control, not eradication. Nowadays they are joined by many more who realise the benefits of organically grown produce. Not only fruit and vegetables, but flowers too. Can you really combine a dose of Captan fungicide with an exquisitely scented bloom?
So the question isn’t - why do organic gardening, rather than, why did we ever garden artificially.
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