How to Turn Your Garden Organic
From stellar soil to TLC, inspired by our own market garden, we outline five of the most important things you will need to consider in order to get the vibrant, natural garden you have been dreaming of.
Firstly, why should you turn your garden organic? Well for many, the health benefits will top the list. By cutting out the crop-killing chemicals, fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides, you are growing food that is fresh, nutritious, and natural. Not only are the end products a hearty boost, we believe they are more delicious than their conventional counterparts.
By looking after yourself, you are also looking after the environment. If the soil could talk it would thank you personally for gardening in a way that strengthens it instead of shredding it down. Furthermore, groundwater remains free from chemical pollution. Finally, an organic garden is the ideal habitat for a whole host of wildlife. So, you will be helping restore the natural balance.
Image: It all starts with the soil.
1: Soil test
Before you can start planting a whole host of goodies, you will need to find out what you’re working with at a base level. To do so, prioritise a soil test. Home test kits are available to purchase at your local gardening centre, but we recommend using slightly more enhanced services such as RHS’s test program which will deliver more accurate, comprehensive results.
The test itself will uncover the pH level and acidity of your turf as well as giving you a understanding of which nutrients both are readily available and which are lacking. These findings will then help dictate your next moves.
2: Plan your plants
Armed with the new-found knowledge of your aggregate, it's now time to plan what you are going to grow and in which areas. Take into account the specific micro-conditions of certain spots in your garden: Where gets the most light? Which area drains efficiently? Is moisture evenly distributed?
When you have your plan, it’s time to buy your seedlings. A great place to begin is at a farmer’s market. Search for those which have been raised naturally, without the use of artificial fertilisers or herbicides. When you have what you need and are ready to plant, be careful to avoid overcrowding. By giving them the space that they deserve, you are giving your new children the best chance of a fruitful future.
An essential step in the formation of any garden, a rich compost can really take your yield to the next level. To thrive and reach their full potential, humans need an optimised nutrition plan and the same can be said for our plant friends. Luckily, you won’t have to shell out for a personal chef for your garden!
We think the perfect compost should contain alternating layers of nitrogen material (kitchen scraps), carbon material (trimmings), and organic soil. It’s a great way to use up old leftovers such as eggshells, flour, crackers, pasta and much, much more. Add recycling and minimising food waste to our reasons to grow organically.
Image: Always think about ways to control pests
4: Create barriers for pests
If your celery is being slimed by slugs or your cabbages are full of caterpillars the temptation to give in to pesticide spray may be high. However, we call for you to stay strong as there are solutions to this pesky problem.
Contraptions such as row covers and worm collars can create a barricade between your plants and the host of hungry critters. Stick traps are also an effective method for capturing these offenders. Also consider creating a nurturing environment for natural predators such as birds, toads, bats, and ladybugs. If you look after them, they can be handy stewards in your garden. Check out the ways in which we have employed ladybugs in the past in order to manage the numbers of woolly aphids in our market garden.
5: Have patience and be attentive
These things take time. Don’t feel disheartened if something doesn’t go to plan the first time around. Investigate the causes of the problem, think of a solution and trial a new method. Gardening is about learning more and growing your bank of knowledge through your experiences. If you pay attention and react to what is happening in your patch, you will soon have an organic allotment to be proud of.