The following article was kindly written by Sheila Jones, a long-standing member of the Sutton Lane Allotment Society. The objective is to raise awareness of the many benefits of gardening organically, and we therefore look forward to receiving contributions from Sheila for inclusion on our website and future newsletters. Liz Lowe: SLAS Chair
ORGANIC GARDENING WORKS WITH NATURE NOT AGAINST IT
The RHS describes organic gardening as a ‘system which makes minimal use of manufactured chemical substances. These are elements of a philosophy which takes a holistic view of gardening, emphasising the interdependence of life forms.’ Gardening establishes a contact with living things. Gardens and allotments are increasingly important to us, for our mental and physical well-being, and to the wildlife which depends on us, as a connected habitat in an increasingly fragmented landscape.
Garlic spray can be used against slugs, aphids, and lily beetles - there are different recipes, but basically it is crushed cloves of garlic in boiled water, strained, watered down and used regularly as a spray. A tea tree spray can be used against mildew and black spot. Companion planting can be a deterrent against aphids (nasturtiums and wormwood) whitefly (French marigolds) and carrot fly (alliums) Marigolds (calendula), can attract a lot of beneficial insects.
These can kill birds and hedgehogs indiscriminately. Any leftover pellets can be taken to the tip to dispose of safely. Instead, use sheep’s wool, beer traps, garlic spray, nematodes, or cut off plastic bottles as protectors, also, a torch at night!
Lay a mulch of cardboard or thick layers of newspapers topped with a thick layer of compost, manure, spent mushroom compost or bark chips for 1 year minimum, and plant into it.
Chicken fertiliser, blood fish and bone, bone-meal, and homemade comfrey tea are all really good natural fertilisers. Comfrey tea is made by filling a bucket with comfrey leaves (very high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) top up with water, covered, as it is very smelly and use after 3 weeks. Strain, and use watered down well. Nettle leaves (high in nitrogen) also make very good fertiliser.
Peat free composts MUST BE LESS THAN 6 MONTHS OLD AND NEVER HAVE GOT WET AT ANY STAGE. Peat based composts are due to be phased out at the end of 2024. Look out for plants grown in peat free compost, and organic seeds.
Piles of wood, twigs, stones etc in an undisturbed corner can provide a habitat for frogs, insects, hedgehogs etc. An old recycling box with a CD cover size hole cut in the front makes an ideal hedgehog box. Water, even if only a plant pot saucer, will also attract birds and insects to your plot.
Sheila Jones May 2023