Organic Gardening Guide

Organic gardening is the growth of plants, vegetables and fruits in the most natural way without utilising pesticides or synthetic man-made chemical fertilisers.

What is an organic garden?

An organic garden supports and nourishes the millions of organisms that make up healthy soil and creates harmony with the natural ecosystem by replenishing consumed resources.

Organic gardening is a system of gardening where soil fertility is maintained by using organic matter, compost and mulch. Water supply, wildlife, insects and of course people are also crucial to a successful organic garden

History of Organic Gardening

Organic agriculture was developed in the early 1900s by Sir Albert Howard and other contemporaries who believed using animal manures, compost and biological pest controls resulted in improved farming.

When applied to gardening the use of organic products help to maintain and increase soil fertility. Indeed, until the nineteenth-century gardeners were reliant on organic waste to provide manure for garden soil. Animal dung in particular was greatly used in Europe and in China the skill of mixing animal and vegetable wastes and the fermentation of the mixture in heaps was widespread.

It was a German philosopher called Dr. Rudolf Steiner who disputed the commonly held belief during the late 19th and early 20th century that the use of chemical fertilisers was the most effective method of providing garden nutrition and began the method of organic gardening.

During this same period Sir Albert Howard evolved through experimentation in India a cheap manure that could be used by farmers by composting both animal and vegetable waste, known as Indore.

It was noted that the use of indoor compost resulted in high yield crops but also that the quality was greatly improved and that the cattle fed on these healthy crops also showed improved strength and resilience. Indeed, the book written by Sir Albert Howard entitled An Agricultural Testament led to a revolution in thinking and application within horticulture.

What Are The Benefits of Organic Gardening?

The simple answer is that the benefits of organic gardening are huge. Both in terms of the positive impact on the environment, financial savings and ultimately the positive effect on the fertility and mineral and vitamin content of your garden soil.

The fundamental principle of organic gardening is that “nature knows best”, and through its “from the soil up” application to home gardens, an organic gardener will see the abundant benefits of the cyclical nature of reinvesting in the soil rather than overly focusing on the plants.

As organic gardening involves no chemical pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, they won’t appear in the water supply, which in turn benefits the supporting wildlife of birds and insects. And as the soil in an organic garden is constantly being layered and built up the garden’s topsoil isn’t eroded and one the consequences of using compost bins is that you are putting less pressure on landfill sites.

Disadvantages of Organic Gardening

Not really a disadvantage as we all love spending as much time in the garden as we can but to implement an organic garden more work and dedication is required without the use of pesticides and the love and care required in the cultivation and growth of organic compost and its investment in the soil.

An organic approach also means you have to constantly adapt your approach and techniques from year to year as the natural variation of natures elements mean strategies that worked one year may not work the next. The commitment required to consistently adhere to organic gardening principles is high but so are the results.

Soil Amendments
It’s necessary to work really closely with the soil in order to grow crops that are both disease and pest resistant. This means frequent amendments through the use of organic fertilisers to the soil to ensure it provides all the required nutrients for healthy crops to grow. It’s also crucial to monitor the pathogens that are present in organic fertilisers such as animal manure and monitor their spread as they can be harmful for human health.

Weeds and Pests
Whenever organic gardening is mentioned, the difficulty associated with controlling pests and weeds will always follow. The fact that what worked one year might not work the following year means that controlling weeds and pests is a constant challenge. Indeed many perennial weeds are almost impossible to control organically and organic pest remedies often end in failure.

Ultimately, while organic gardening comes with a raft of challenges, the numerous benefits really do outweigh the drawbacks and the taste, beauty and satisfaction that come as a result of the produce grown as a result of organic gardening is second to none!