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 am running a ‘Topiary Provocation’ for garden designers, via Zoom, over the next few weeks. Dates are: Tuesday 23rd March, 10am Wednesday 24th March 7.30pm Thursday 8th April, 7.30pm The ‘provocation’ is for garden designers anywhere in the world, is free to join and will last about 45 minutes. Places are limited to 12 per session, as I want to make sure we can share ideas about topiary and how it can be used (and managed) in a modern garden – especially if skill level and maintenance time is low. I hope that I can provoke a discussion around …
A talk by the team at Waltham Place is being given on April 14th 2021, at 2.15pm. Tickets are free and it is via Zoom. Get Your Free Ticket I am hosting, the talk is set up by the European Boxwood & Topiary Society and it promises to be an extraordinary hour looking at one of my absolute favourite gardens of all time. (Designed by one of my favourite garden writer’s….) Brilliant topiary and a philosophy of gardening that puts wildlife first, I absolutely cannot wait for this talk… do join in and book your free ticket. Get A Waltham …
Alternatives to boxwood are hard to come by – nothing has the small, easy to clip, reflective leaf of a boxwood shrub. But as we reach April and the boxwood caterpillar begins to wake up, hungry to defoliate our boxwood topiaries and hedges, you may wonder what plant you can use as a replacement in the garden should the worst happen – and the caterpillar destroys all! (For more information on the boxwood caterpillar, visit the European Boxwood & Topiary Society website. Their research and hard work has meant all is not lost in the fight to rid the UK …