What is organic gardening?

I am an organic gardening enthusiast because it’s a system that works with nature rather than against her. Without using chemicals you can create the best possible environment for plants to grow. The garden is treated as an interrelated and interdependent whole, so every action and its impact has to be taken into consideration. For this reason only natural materials and products are used in an organic garden because these are least likely to upset the natural balance or have unforeseen detrimental effects on other parts of the system. Organic gardening is not about neglect. A good organic gardener will skillfully manage the garden environment to the benefit of the plants being cultivated. Organic gardening is about creating the best possible environment for plants to grow and letting them get on with it. In practice, this means learning to live with a certain level of pests and diseases, so that their natural enemies have the opportunity to build up and create a natural balance within your garden.

There are six golden rules when you garden organically

  1. Improve the soil. Building up healthy soil is the single most important thing to do in an organic garden. Use your time, energy and resources to improve the soil so that plants don't run short of moisture or nutrients, allowing them to grow strong and fast. Healthy plants and crops will more easily be able to shrug off pest and disease attacks. In my garden, I add well-rotted manure and compost to the surface of the soil as a mulch each spring so that the ground is regularly improved.

  2. Right plant, right place. Choose plants that are suitable for your situation rather than trying to force those you'd like to grow into a place in which they will never be happy. Use pest- and disease-resistant varieties where possible - this is particularly important for fruit and vegetables. Make sure all plants get the best possible start and don't receive a check in growth.

  3. Mix plants up. Grow a wide range of different plants all mixed together so that if any pest or disease does get established, it has less chance of spreading to nearby plants of a similar type.

  4. Use natural materials. Use only natural materials in your garden, rather than man-made or manufactured chemicals and products, which can have a detrimental effect on the environment as a whole.

  5. Stay one step ahead. Use your own cunning to outwit any potential pest problems by encouraging natural enemies of the pests, putting up traps and barriers and sowing and planting at appropriate times.

  6. Recycle as much as you can. Don't throw away anything that can be recycled and used to improve the fertility of your soil. Composting is the key, where all once-living things (from the garden and household) can be rotted down and the nutrients locked up inside released.