This September is Organic September! Organised by the UK Soil Association, the campaign helps to promote and raise awareness about the benefits of organic products and practices. It’s a great time to start thinking about how you could incorporate a little more organic produce into your diet to benefit both your health and the environment.
If this sounds like something that might interest you, then growing an organic garden in your new home is the ultimate way to make a difference. Growing organic produce is a rewarding and sustainable way to grow your own fresh fruit and vegetables, and can be suitable for a garden of any size and shape.
To help you make a start on your organic garden, we’ve published a series of tips below that could be useful to read first. Here they are:
Pick a good location
Most vegetables require a good few hours of sunlight exposure every day, therefore be sure to choose a sunny spot in your garden where the light shines through daily.
Consider using tubs or planters
Growing organic vegetables in tubs or planters is a great option, especially if you have limited space in your garden. Select containers that are at least 12-18 inches deep and have drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Larger containers will hold more soil and provide better insulation for plant roots.
Determine what vegetables you want to grow
Some fruit and vegetables are better suited for container gardening due to their compact size, for example tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, spinach, herbs, radishes, and dwarf varieties of beans and peas. You could also consider incorporating perennial vegetables like asparagus, rhubarb, or artichokes if you have the space as these plants can provide a steady harvest for years to come.
Use good quality organic seeds or seedlings
Be sure to do your research before buying your seeds or seedlings to find reviews and recommendations. Start with organic, non-GMO seeds or seedlings from reputable sources.
Practice Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is a gardening practice that involves changing the types of crops you plant in each area of your garden over a sequence of seasons or years. Rotating your crops each year can help to prevent soil depletion and reduce the risk of diseases and pests.
Companion planting is a gardening technique that involves planting different species of plants close to one another to achieve various benefits. This is based on the idea that certain plants can help or hinder each other when grown together due to their chemical interactions, physical characteristics, and mutual benefits. Some plants can also deter or repel pests that commonly affect your fruit and veg. For example, marigolds can deter nematodes, and basil, garlic and onions can deter aphids and repel some insects too.
Applying organic mulch such as straw or wood chips can help to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate your soil temperature – all valuable features of a successful crop.
Follow a watering routine
Watering your organic garden in the morning will reduce evaporation and prevent fungal diseases. Use collected rainwater wherever possible to help save water wastage.
Manage weeds by hand
Growing organically requires patience and perseverance. This is most important when it comes to managing weeds and pests without using chemical herbicides. The most organic way to reduce weeds is to simply handpick them whenever they appear. Using mulch can also help to prevent weed growth.
Get to know your insects
When avoiding pesticides, getting to know the insects in your garden can be both interesting and useful. Try to encourage the amount of beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings by growing dill, fennel and coriander which can attract them. Sunflowers can also provide a welcoming habitat for ladybugs. Pest Insects, on the other hand, will feed on your organic vegetable plants and can be detrimental to your garden. These include aphids, caterpillars, beetles, slugs and whiteflies. You can use physical barriers like row covers to protect plants from these pests and also handpick and remove them when you spot them. You can also apply organic pesticides like neem oil or insecticidal soap as a last resort if you can’t keep the bugs under control.
Regular care and inspection
Checking your plants daily for signs of pests, diseases or nutrient deficiencies can prevent problems from spreading or getting worse. You can also prune and thin your plants as needed to improve air circulation and reduce the risk of disease.
Knowing when to pick
Picking your homegrown vegetables is by far the best bit in the process! Picking your crops when they are at their peak ripeness will ensure you maximise flavour and increase their nutritional value. Every fruit and vegetable is different, so be sure to look out for the signs that your crop is ready to harvest!
Organic gardening might require more time and patience than conventional methods, but the rewards are definitely worth it. Not only will you be contributing to healthier soil and fewer chemicals in the environment, but you will also ultimately be providing your family with more nutritious and flavourful food too.
Enjoy the process and remember to share your organic gardening photos with us by tagging @Peterwardhomes in your social media posts.