Organic gardening was the only way of gardening before chemicals and pesticides arrived to ‘help’ our crops along. Unfortunately there are side effects to many of the chemical products – in fact there are side effects with most of them, although some less harmful than others.
Organic gardening was the way of the past and hopefully it will be the way of the future, as we learn more about the damage we are causing to our environment.
Organic fruit and vegetables can be more expensive than un-organic produce, and it pays therefore to be producing our own food as much as we possibly can. Unless you have a large area of land, including polytunnels and greenhouses, and perhaps an army of gardeners to do a lot of the work for you, it’s unlikely you will be able to grow the variety of fruit and veg you are used to buying.
However, there are many different fruits, vegetables, herbs and even edible flowers we can grow in an average sized garden, and in a few hours every week, organic food can be included in the diet for all the family, however addicted to burgers, fries and chocolate buttons they are!
Plan your organic garden well and buy the seeds you want from a reputable seed supplier. Thompson and Morgan (UK) are online award winning suppliers of seeds and other products and they have some great pictures to get inspired by!
Or browse Amazon products – double check reviews and country of origin. I’ve ordered seeds before now that took so long in coming that it was too late to sow them.
Follow the instructions on your seed packets and plan your garden carefully. Make sure you don’t plant tall growing plants in front of shorter plants as they will shade the small ones from the sun.
Keep your fruit and veggies free from weeds, and water well, especially during long dry periods in the summer. Keep an eye on the slug and snail population when the plants are small. A slug attack can wipe out a whole row of carefully planted lettuces in a matter of hours.
Organic gardening worked for our ancestors so try using old fashioned ways of dealing with slugs rather than buying chemical slug pellets. For example, crushed eggshells placed around the plants, making sure there are no gaps, will prevent slugs from eating your young plants.
Many gardeners swear by a glass of beer sunk into the ground next to a new line of plants. Apparently slugs prefer the smell of beer and will happily drown themselves in alcohol and leave your baby lettuces to fight another day! (I’ve tried this and it works!)
Other pests can get into the garden and enjoy the free food you’re providing, and they will particularly love your organic gardening methods 🙂 but with a little vigilance and a regular stroll around the veggie patch, you should be able to keep on top of most of the problems that could turn up.
The cabbage white butterfly will attack your brassicas – and they WILL attack so watch out for them. They lay their eggs on the underside of the leaves and within a couple of days the hungriest caterpillars in the world will munch through your entire crop of cabbages, or any other brassicas.
Remove them at the egg stage and burn or throw them to the chickens. If you miss the egg stage, simply take off the leaves the caterpillars are eating and throw them on the fire, or again to the chickens. This may seem very un-zen like but unless you are intending to buy your cabbages and are just planting them for the fun of attracting caterpillars and increasing the butterfly population, there is little choice.
Always look out for natural products or advice from local gardeners. Some will use chemicals, but many gardeners dislike un-natural products. If you put chemicals onto your plants, the chemicals will find their way, not only into the crops, but also into the soil which wont be as fertile next year, so its really worthwhile avoiding any “chemical” products.
Stick with organic gardening, and the wonderful organic food you produce will feed your family for many years to come from the same patch of land.