How to grow organic at home

Volunteers harvest organic produce on campus

Volunteers harvest organic produce on campus

First published in Columns Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Growhampton

Organic gardening in its broadest sense can be encapsulated by one of my favourite sayings: ‘Feed your soil and it shall feed you’. Organic methods ensure that the soil is the best it can be, by placing a major focus on soil health. By putting in a little extra effort and prioritising the health of the soil early on, you’ll make a great investment for the rest of the season.
Organic growing relies on time honoured techniques such as compost, crop rotations and natural pest management methods. It emphasizes the use of these techniques which are beneficial to the soil, improve biodiversity and improve the health of the garden ecosystem!
Organic gardening also restricts the use of techniques that can be harmful, such as chemical and artificial fertiliser applications and genetically modified organisms.
Organic growing is all about being proactive rather than reactive, ensuring that the garden landscape is as balanced and healthy as possible. By making the garden more resilient to pests and disease we are able to produce a bounty of nutritionally rich vegetables.

My top 5 organic practices: 

1.Compost – pile it on in at the start of the season and shallow incorporate (mix compost into the soil’s surface) into the bed before sowing/planting. A thin sprinkling in the planting hole with seeds or seedlings is also ideal.

2. Crop Rotation – don’t plant the same plants or same plant families in the same soil year after year. Move them around the garden each season as this helps to minimise the build up of pests and disease.

3. Green Manure – one of my favourite things are plants that organic gardeners grow to dig them back into the soil. As they break down they enrich the soil for the following crop. Growhampton uses green manure to great effect!  

4. Encouraging Biodiversity – plant lots of flowers and native plants in and amongst your vegetables. This keeps Britain’s bees buzzing and also helps to confuse insect pests who are less likely to find your vegetables when they are mixed with other plants with different scents.

5. Encouraging Beneficial Insects – beneficial insects are the good guys who eat the bad guys! We need them to gobble up the insect pests who eat our crops. You can encourage beneficials by following step 4 above and also by keeping some wild, un-manicured areas in the garden. Beneficial insects love long grass and nooks and crannies to hide in.

Next week we’ll be talking about how to sow seeds.
Joel W.
 

Top tip for this week: Mulch!
With all this hot weather around, soil can dry out so quickly. A mulch layer on top of the soil surface helps to preserve and regulate soil moisture improving the plants access to soil nutrients. Mulch your garden beds now with compost, straw, leaf mould, mushroom compost or other spent plant matter.
 

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