Guide to Organic Gardening
There is evidence to suggest that foliar spraying with fish emulsion can reduce whitefly numbers.
Prevention rather than cure is a big part of organic gardening and involves attention to weed control, pruning and disposal of diseased plant material, crop rotation, composting and mulching. Look for disease resistant strains when planting. Keep weeds to a minimum. Practise crop rotation. And increase the diversity of your veg. patch to mimic nature so that health problems are reduced and you will provide a better home for beneficial insects.
Made from waste garden material, compost is an essential ingredient for creating a rich, friable soil and therefore healthy plants. Whether the open heap method is used or the more compact portable compost bins, the principle is the same.
Garden waste such as hedge and grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and animal manures are layered to a depth of 20cm then add liberal sprinklings of blood and bone and enough lime to whiten this layer. Lime and blood and bone are added to enable microbes and worms to work faster. Compost activators are useful to add as they contain microbes for speeding decay. Keep adding the layers until a pile of 1.5m is reached. In warm weather with frequent watering and turning compost can be ready in six weeks but it may take over six months at other times.
For further information see The Palmers Guide To Making Compost. Ready bagged compost is always available at Palmers.
Mulching is a layer of material covering the soil which helps conserve soil moisture, keeps down weeds, insulates soil temperature, encourages worms, aerates clay soils, and helps bind sandy soils, as well as acting as a balanced fertiliser. It has so many benefits that almost no garden should be started without its addition. Debco’s Mulch ‘n’ Feed is a specially formulated mix but you can also use compost, bark, peat, leaf litter and other materials.
Research into “organics” has produced a range of products that fulfil the organic principals. Some of these are described below.
Butlers Sheep Manure is gentle and slow acting, it contains useful amounts of potash which is important for flower and fruit development.
Blood and bone has been a favourite with all gardeners as it has a slow and safe release of nitrogen and phosphorus, ideal for use around leaf crops such as lettuce. Nitrosol is a liquid blood and bone concentrate, this is faster acting than dried Blood & Bone.
Seaweed extract and fish emulsion both contain essential nutrients as well as good amounts of potash and trace elements. They are available in the Natures Way range and Bounty. There is evidence to suggest that foliar spraying with fish emulsion can reduce whitefly numbers.
Lime reduces soil acidity and helps improve the availability of other nutrients. It is particularly valuable when new beds are being dug. Lime and Gypsum in a 50/50 ratio is an excellent clay breaker when dug in.
Natural Pest Control
Organic gardeners who practise good cultural techniques will need to spray less, but some spraying may be necessary. Luckily there is a wide range of environment friendly products available. The Natures Way range contains all organic pest/disease control and fertilisers. The Caterpillar Spray contains two toxins from plant extracts that have a quick knockdown but bio-degrade naturally. The Insect Spray uses the insecticidal soap ingredient to control most common insect pests and can be used right up to harvest.
Derris dust for caterpillars is widely used and is now improved with the liquid combination of pyrethrum. Mineral oils control mites and scale with no toxic residues. McGregor’s Slug & Snail and Blitzem both contain metaldehyde which breaks down to water and carbon dioxide.
Copper Oxychloride controls a wide range of fungus and bacterial diseases with no harmful residues. Natures Way Fungus Spray contains copper oxychloride as well as Sulphur and has a broad spectrum of control.
Organic gardening is not new. It has been practised for most of the history of cultivated crops, long before development of synthetic pesticides, and fertilisers.
Organic gardening is based on an integrated approach to controlling pests and diseases and for increasing soil fertility. It uses only naturally occurring materials.