Organic gardening is easier than you might think. You can have an attractive and productive garden without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Make your own compost.
Natural fertilizer can be made from garden waste and scraps from the kitchen. It is good to include vegetable peelings, fruit waste, tea bags, plant prunings and grass cuttings. Cardboard egg boxes scrunched up paper and fallen leaves can also be included although these break down more slowly but will help the mixture. Crushed eggshells can add useful minerals to the mix. Don’t include any perennial weeds such as dandelions and thistles or weeds with seed heads.
Air can also be added by mixing the contents. Turning your compost helps to aerate and mix up the waste and cuttings, which leads to faster composting.
Either build a compost heap or try a compost bin. These are particularly useful for smaller gardens. Add some worms as they will digest the waste material and convert it into liquid compost.
When your compost is ready it will be a dark brown soil-like layer at the bottom of your bin. It should have a spongy texture. Spreading this into your flowerbeds improves the soil quality, helps it retain moisture and suppresses weeds. It also reduces the need to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
Find out more about organic composting from the Eden Project.
Encourage insect and slug eating creatures.
Wildlife gardeners friends are frogs and toads, bird, bats and hedgehogs because they eat insects and slugs. Ladybirds, lacewings, and hoverflies feed on aphids. Encourage the right sort of wildlife by providing wildlife shelters such as rotting logs in a corner to make a home for hedgehogs and insects. Leaving overgrown areas to provide places for animals, to rest or hibernate. Putting up bird and bat boxes will also help. Find out more from the Royal Horticultural Society.
Adapt natural processes to enrich your soil.
Work in 4 inches of organic matter such as well-rotted manure or compost and add at least another 2 inches per year. Mulch around your plants with leaves, wood chips, bark, hay or straw. this helps the soil to retain moisture. Find out more about this at Gardeners.com
Finally, only use pesticides as a last resort.
Pesticides can kill the wildlife you want to attract to your garden, including the predators that eat pests. If you really feel the need to use them, always follow the instructions on the label and dispose of waste products carefully. Don’t pour them down the drain or put them in your household waste bin. Be especially careful to make sure pesticides or other hazardous chemicals don’t get into ponds, as they can poison water life.
Kim Mackenzy Andrews is a children’s book author, nature writer, photographer, and artist.
Find her Nature books for children on Amazon.
Wildlife articles for nature lovers: – patch reporting for the BBC Wildlife magazine.
Kim Mackenzy Andrews Children’s Author
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