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…
When do you prune? Below are a few pointers on when you need to think about your topiary and hedges this year, so you can make sure you clip at the best time and not waste any effort doing work you don’t need to do… January & February Roses, fruit trees and wisteria is where the focus lies. Yes, it is cold and the work can be unpleasant because you are often stood on a ladder with your secateurs, barely moving enough to warm the body, but get these jobs done well, with care, and you can enjoy the fruits …
Last September when I and topiary artist (and mentor) Charlotte Molesworth ran a weekend of topiary masterclasses we had a visit from the garden writer Non Morris. You can read more about Non and her garden design work and writings here. She has written a lovely article for the February 2022 edition of The English Garden Magazine about her afternoon working with us and learning about topiary – I’m really thrilled by the piece, because she mentions not just a little of the wonderful history of Balmoral Cottage and how the garden grew, but also shares a little of how …
This Autumn I have presented another ‘Topiary Provocation’ to keen gardeners and designers. If you want to know more about topiary, the report on what we discussed and where modern topiary is going can be read by clicking the link below: Topiary Provocation Report Autumn 2021 This report is free to post on your own website or blog, just credit Modern Mint, and don’t change anything within it. Alternatively you can just share it with keen friends… or enemies? I did a similar meet-up with garden designers in spring 2021. Here is where you can read the Topiary Provocation Spring …