Grow Organic!Published on 16th April 2015
Having a productive kitchen garden is many people’s dream. In fact, improved garden access is often an important incentive for Apropos customers; with Aprofold doors next to the kitchen sink, gathering produce for the table becomes an easier affair. But, once you’ve got your lovely new kitchen extension you still have work to do: it’s time to make your garden.
‘Organic’ used to be a by-word for the hippy-dippy be-sandaled few; those who bathed in rain water and had children called Andromeda Optimism; eschewing chemicals was a small, peaceful rebellion, but it did something remarkable: it returned real flavour to fruit and veg. So, if you’re going to grow for it this April, why not do it organically? Organic growing doesn’t necessarily bring more nutrients to our diets, but it does bring more flavour, more vitality, fewer harmful chemicals, and a more balanced environment. And the best thing is, you can do it practically anywhere – in a pot on a windowsill, or on 40 acre estate.
A Quick Start Guide to Organic Growing
- Stop applying all pesticides, fungicides and weed killers around your entire garden. It’ll take around 3 years for the soil to recover, but stopping is a good start. Grow in pots or raised beds to begin with, if you’re worried.
- If you’ve not grown much before start small. Find a bright, sunny spot – part shade will do –and clear the space. Old garden debris, large stones, thick tree roots all need to go. Relocate any existing shrubs.
- Cover the area with organic material such as leaf mould, dried grass, manure, seaweed, then improve the soil with healthy organic compost. Dig it all over.
- Water the area, but don’t drench it.
- Decide what you want to grow – potatoes, peas and the various types of squash/marrow/courgette are among the easiest – and buy either organic plants or seeds. Be season-aware however – many seeds need to be planted before the end of April, and will do best if started off under cover.
- When the seedlings are big enough (about 4 weeks old) harden them off (put them outside during the day and bring them in again at night to avoid shocking them with frost) for a week or two, then plant out. Mulch around the plants with straw to deter slugs and snails. Water regularly.
- Check frequently for pests – while coffee grounds and eggs shells can deter slugs, picking them up and taking them away is the fail-safe method.
- Plant insect and pollinator attractants – ladybirds, lacewings, hoverflies and some beetles will eat aphids. Borage, calendula, California poppies, fennel and coriander all appeal to these beneficial insects. Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, will also help your produce to flourish, so select companion plants from the RHS Perfect for Pollinators list.