Ruth suggests how and why we should try organic gardening

The natural world is in a perilous state thanks to global warming, pollution, too many people and too much building and industrialisation.

The effects are felt in our own little worlds, as insect numbers fall, green spaces are gobbled up, agriculture intensifies and spotting wildlife becomes a rare treat rather than the everyday occurrence it was in past decades.

Homemade compost is the cornerstone of organic gardening

It feels like a lot to reverse but we can all make a difference in a small way in the way we tend our gardens.

Giving up chemicals and starting to garden organically can feel like a daunting task. Will my garden be over-run by pests? How do I combat diseases? What about weeds – they’ll get everywhere!? Will it cost me a lot of money?

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The basic answer to most of these is a cautious no, though without the chemical crutch gardening can be more laborious. Weeding is more time consuming than using a chemical, but it will get you fit.

An organic garden has balance, with plenty of predators to help get rid of pests

Checking plants for pests and disease will take up a few minutes each day, but it will also give you a deeper knowledge of your plants and garden so you are quicker to spot potential problems.

LIke all aspects of this glorious hobby of ours, organic gardening success isn’t a nailed-on certainty and yes, things can and do go wrong – we lose several plants each year though more often than not the fault lies with us taking our eye off the ball and not acting on potential problems quickly enough.

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But even when things don’t work out as you hoped, the end result is a healthier and more balanced garden with greater biodiversity, and this leads to stronger plants, more flowers and improved cropping.

Save money and know the organic provenance of your crops by harvesting from year to year

And remember, if you don’t feel confident enough to step away from sprays completely, there are many organic options that use acids, natural oils and fatty acids to combat pests and diseases. Brands to look out for include Neudorff, Ecofective, Vitax and Bug Clear.

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Another reputable brand, Grazers, works by deterring pests including slugs, snails, butterflies, and lily beetles so the pest stays in the food chain for predatory insects, birds and wildlife but doesn’t attack your plants.

Welcome all insects: wasps eat pests and also help speed up the composting process

To my mind, gardening organically is as much about caring for the wider planet as it is tending your own garden or allotment. As resources become more finite, we can do so much at home to reuse, recycle and make things last longer with just a little extra thought and effort.

Wash and reuse to save the planet and your pennies

Looking after our tools properly, washing gardening gloves, reusing plastic pots instead of buying more and recycling compost as a soil conditioner are just four simple ways of gardening in an environmentally-friendly, ‘mindful’ way.

This Garden Organic booklet is packed with tips for how to begin your organic gardening journey

For further details about how to start gardening without using chemicals, visit the Garden Organic outlet website at organiccatalogue.com and order their booklet First Steps in Organic Gardening, which is packed with useful hints and tips and costs £2.99 plus P&P. It is also available by calling 0344 967 0330 or writing to The Organic Gardening Catalogue, Long Road, Paignton, Devon, TQ4 7SX.

Further ideas about gardening organically are available from gardenorganic.org.uk

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Let’s keep gardening!

One of the great things about lockdown was that more people discovered the joy of gardening and growing things and we greatly hope that this won’t wear off now that ‘normal’ life has resumed.

This blog is an insight into what the AG team is up in their gardens, what we like to grow, what we pick and harvest, what’s worked for us and what hasn’t – because like everyone, things go wrong for us too!

Our gardening ‘agony uncle’ John Negus is also still working hard. Send him your problems and questions, with pictures if you can, and he will get back to you with an answer within 24 hours, as he has been doing for decades.

Contact him using the AG email address at: amateurgardening@futurenet.com

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We already have thriving Facebook page but are also on Twitter and Instagram. These sites are a brilliant way of chatting to people, sharing news, information, pictures and just saying hello –we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Best of all, as gardeners are generally lovely folk, more interested in plants, hedgehogs, tea and cake than political shenanigans and point-scoring, so the chat is friendly and welcoming.

You can find us at:

Facebook: Facebook.com/AmateurGardeningMagazine

Twitter: Twitter.com/TheAGTeam

Instagram: instagram.com/amgardening_mag

So please drop by, follow us, ‘like’ our posts and say hello –we will reply as soon as we can. Happy gardening!