THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Feb22

How To Be An Organic Gardener

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…



Sep29

New Topiary In South London Out Of Yew

Making a new topiary out of the large, dull facade of a Taxus blob… My work was to change it up from a ‘jelly drop’ shape and give it texture, open it out and let the light through, and make it a sculptural feature in the background of the garden in summer… yet a major part of the garden in winter. A few more years before it becomes something special, but there was far more leaf and growth inside the plant than I thought and so it will not take too long for it to gain in character and become …

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Sep27

Topiary Teacher – Put on The Spot!

topiary teacher

Two weeks ago I was invited to teach topiary at the garden of Griselda Kerr, the author of The Apprehensive Gardener. I love teaching and sharing skills, but I was placed on the spot in the afternoon and asked to show how I would make a new topiary from an existing shrub. So below is a speeded-up video of me creating a cloud-pruned topiary from an old boxwood tree. I particularly love the ending when the class get involved….! See the video here. One hour was all it took, and though it needed a little tidying-up, it was made by …

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Sep27

Book Yourself A Topiary Workshop 2022

organic topiary snow

Charlotte Molesworth, my topiary mentor, and I are running our popular topiary workshop again in 2022. You can email me for details – or go here for information, your ticket and to find out about dates. Book A Spot On A Topiary Workshop, September 2022