THE MODERN MINT BLOG
How Do I Become An Organic Gardener?
The boy walked up to his mother, who was slicing into the tall compost heap with her spade. Dotted around the sides of the heap were a few daffodils, about to unfold themselves and shine brightly as the heralds of a warming spring.
“Why are you always moving that mud around mummy?” asked the boy.
His mother smiled, wiped a glove across her forehead to remove the sweat.
“It does look a bit like mud, doesn’t it? But can you see how it crumbles when I pick it up? And can you see the worms? Smell it too, go on.”
The boy, encouraged by his mother, took a great sniff.
“It’s gone up my nose!”
“Well it will do if you inhale like that,” she laughed, “wipe your nose… not on your sleeve!”
The boy giggled. His mother laughed too.
“This is called compost. It is made from all the leaves and all the flowers of the plants we had in the garden last year. Did you like the smell?”
The boy nodded, eyes wide.
“This compost is so important to how we look after our garden. It’s as important as gold to an organic gardener like me.”
“An organic gardener?” said the boy, “how do I become an organic gardener?”
The Two Essentials of the Organic Gardener
First of all, being an organic gardener is about what you don’t do.
You Don’t Use Pesticides, Weedkillers or Synthetic Fertilisers
Got it? No more popping to the garden centre, buying some and then thinking these are ok to use. They are not, not even in small amounts… and you will no longer be able to consider yourself an organic gardener.
Now we are clear on what you don’t do, what one action CAN YOU TAKE to become an organic gardener?
Look after your soil.
Your soil and its ability to be easy to handle, hold just enough water and oxygen to grow a range of plants, and also be filled with nutrients is of the utmost importance to strive for as an organic gardener.
How can you make this happen?
Try not to dig or disturb the soil too much, don’t leave it naked to the sun and rain (even if it is covered with weeds, that is better than nothing!) and add as much organic matter to its surface as you can.
This is where the compost heap comes in. By storing all of your organic matter, all your waste and arisings from the garden in one place, you capture all the goodness in one position and get it ready to be re-used.
A compost heap is the beating heart that drives your garden and the health of the plants you grow.
The Organic Gardener
By refraining from using poison in your garden, whilst concentrating on the health of your soil, you will be creating the strongest possible foundation you can for being an organic gardener.
If you add to these endeavours a few more great practises like saving rainwater for re-use on thirsty plants, growing a wide and diverse range of flowers and shrubs, planting trees, fighting the sale of composts with peat in, growing your own vegetables and cut flowers, making a pond and doing all you can to provide habitats and food for wildlife, you will soon be a master organic gardener.
Simple, isn’t it? We hope you will become an organic gardener too…
I compiled a list of books using Bookshop, a new online shop to rival Amazon. I like it because it is supporting independent bookshops, helping them out by giving them an audience whilst their own physical premises are closed. The books I’ve listed are not all about gardening, but worth a look through and an order anyway as they are wonderful and have seen me through lockdown – and I hope they bring you some joy too! Check out the books I recommend here.
Hedge laying is something I’ve been meaning to try for a long time, a type of pruning that can bring huge benefits to wildlife as well as looking amazing. So last year I went down to Dorset/the edge of Devon, to spend a day learning to lay a hedge. Hedge laying is a way of building a stock proof fence. It does take time, and some practical and physical skill, but once you get the hang of it I would think developing your instinct about what to prune and where to lay the branches is where the true proficiency arises… …
Fernando Caruncho is a garden designer from Madrid. I am always inspired by his work – his clean lines, ‘green architecture’, sense of proportion, balance and minimal plant palette. This seems to bring out the atmosphere of the garden, the space, intensifying its… spirit. I have written about him a lot – here, for example… and here. But recently I have discovered a few more interviews with him, so thought I would link to his words as he always has something interesting to say, the opposite of prosaic. This first interview from the Society of Garden Designers will give you …