HOW far down the organic gardening road have you got?
I have been gardening as organically as I can for the last 26 years but I never quite feel that I have finally washed all ideas of manmade chemicals out of my mind.
As products and ideas come and go, you can be left confused about what is an acceptable organic practice and what isn’t, particularly if you are combining your organic philosophy with trying to be environmentally friendly and supporting wildlife.
For example, if I attract birds into my garden can I then apply my organic principles to keeping birds off my fruit and vegetables?
If I use one of the newer parasitic nematodes to help control a garden pest, what effect might that be having on other unseen micro-organisms in the garden.
If I use a peat-based compost in the garden am I party to the destruction of thousands of hectares of peat bog all over the world?
These conflicts of interest might occasionally force us to break our self- imposed restrictions and we then resort to the use of a quick chemical fix to remove a devastating problem swiftly and painlessly.
Sadly, we are now reaping the benefit of prolonged chemical usage in our society, with the dramatic collapse of our honey bee populations, the plummeting populations of certain bird species, the gradual build up of resistance of certain pests to pesticides, the huge increase in slug and snail populations despite many years of use of Metaldehyde products and many other hidden effects that are forcing all of us to think about our organic credentials.
Read ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson, first published in 1962, to understand these problems better. ISBN 0-14-118494-9.
Here is a lists of terms that you might like to consider and to do your own research on so that you can formulate your own ideas on the efficacy, benefits and values of being an organic gardener – sacrificial plants, physical barriers, repellents, resistant and susceptible varieties of plants, the chemical treadmill, organic chemicals, organic fertilisers, pheromone traps, predators and parasites, companion planting, genetic modification and cultural control methods.
To help you follow through some of the ideas on organic gardening, why not take a look at the following websites or call them on the numbers given:-
l Garden Organic – this the Henry Doubleday Research Association’s new name and they provide support, advice and carry out research on organic growing for amateurs and professionals alike. Visit www.gardenorganic.org.uk or call 024 7630 3517.
lSoil Association – provides advice and approval for organic growers so if you are working at a commercial level why not visit www.soilassociation.org or call 0117 314 5000 for support and advice.
lCentre for Alternative Technology – research, ideas, education on all things environmental. A fascinating library of books to choose from. Visit www.cat.org.uk or call 01654 705950.
lChase Organics – this is the commercial arm of Garden Organic, with a vast catalogue of products to choose from. Visit www.organicatalog.com or call 01932 253666.
lWiggly Wigglers – a very proactive company providing a wide range of products from books to worm farms. Visit www.wigglywigglers.co.uk or call 01981 500391.
lBecker Underwood – this is the company that produces the nematodes for pest control and suppliers can be searched for on their website at www.nemasys.info.com .
I am due to give a talk to the Huddersfield Allotments and Gardens Federation on Organic Pest Control on September 20 at Turnbridge Working Mens’ Club starting at 7.45pm so if you are an allotment holder why not come along and get involved in the discussions.
Call Malcolm Peaker, secretary of the HAGF, on 01484 653282 for more details of the programme of events run for the allotment holders of Huddersfield.