There was a time when if you said ‘I garden organically’ to a fellow gardener you’d be met with a very strange look. True, organic gardeners were once met with a certain kind of derision, but now many people have latched on to the organic movement. With regular news updates about the harm of pesticides on health and the environment, it’s no wonder people a want to convert their garden to an organic one. So how can you change your non organic garden to an organic one? How can you garden organically if you have been used to modern argi-methods.
How can I turn my garden organic?
The first step in becoming organic on the home scale is to take stock of your patch. Whether you want a vegetable organic garden, just an organic flower bed, think about your patch as a whole. But also think of our environment and surrounding area. This is because your garden is a living organism and part of a whole. Modern agri-methods have a ‘take part of the whole’ philosophy and then try to apply that as a whole. Instead of trying to make one aspect of your garden work as a whole, make the whole work for one aspect of your garden.
How can I stop weeds in an organic garden?
Mulch is your friend! Weeds are by far the thing that most people fear when going organic. We have become so reliant on just spraying weedkiller, some worry they won’t be able to cope when going organic. But fear not! It’s easy to get into a routine of weed suppression in an organic garden. Mulch and regular hoeing is the answer. This might seem labour intensive, it’s not! Even in the height of summer, just a weekly quick once over with a hoe will keep weeds under control. I can hoe a vegetable plot that is 15ft x 90ft in about 20/30 minutes. But the trick is little and often – DO NOT leave it until you see the weeds. For an even less time consuming way to keep weeds under control – use raised beds! In fact, with just some raised beds and a good supply of mulch and ground cover planting, you may (almost) never have to weed again. Ah the bliss of a weed free raised bed.
Is organic gardening expensive?
No. And yes. Starting off an organic garden can get very expensive if you fall for marketing hype. But think about it, organic gardening has been taking place for thousands of years, long before there were companies to sell you all kinds of gadgets and products. The only equipment you really need when starting an organic garden is a spade and some seeds – if you want to be really basic. Being realistic, a spade, fork, hoe, possibly a lawnmower and shears, sturdy shoes and some seeds. Everything else is gravy.
We will go into more depth about organic soil in a later article, but soil in the the keystone to your organic garden, and composting is your friend. Organic soil is a living organism and highly complex. It’s not just a growing medium. Organic gardening is about nurturing soil, not ‘adjusting’ soil. Nematodes, bacteria, fungi, minerals, hummus, worms and a whole host of other aspects of soil – all need to be taken into account.
Organic gardening tends to take a preventative approach to pests and disease. In fact, it might be worth reassessing what the word ‘pest’ means. Because organic gardening takes the whole into consideration, organic gardens learn how to use these ‘pests’ to their advantage. An infestation of pests can mean there are other problems on your organic system. For example, poor nutrition, lack of sunlight, and too much or too little moisture can all lead to weak plants. Weak and stressed plants have a harder time fighting pests and disease. In many cases of plant problems I’ve had, it was because the plants were weak and/or not thriving in its conditions in the first place. Healthy plants can fight off and recover quickly from many pests and diseases. Of course, there will be times when no matter how strong and healthy the plant, it will still suffer from something, and we will cover this in depth in another article.