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Organic Gardening - Avoid Harmful Chemicals

For many gardeners, this may be the trickiest principle to follow, as it is so easy to just buy a pesticide or weedkiller to solve a problem. However, reaching for toxic chemicals is never the answer in an organic garden.

The first thing an organic gardener may have to do is rethink their attitude to weeds, pests and diseases - look at the bigger picture, and you may be able to learn to tolerate some things instead of destroying them :

  • Dandelion flowers look lovely and are great for pollinators as they come into flower before there is much else around. They can also be used to make vegan honey. And once you have picked all the flowers to make honey, you can cut off the leaves and add them to your compost heap

  • Nettle leaves are full of nutrition so can be added to your compost heap, or used to make an organic plant feed. Leave a patch of them somewhere in you garden or plot, and you can keep harvesting fresh young leaves for months. Young leaves also make a delicious Nettle Soup for you and your family to enjoy!

  • Aphids make good food for beneficial insects such as ladybirds and hoverflies

  • Slugs are enjoyed by hedgehogs, thrushes and ground beetles

As ever, Garden Organic has lots of ideas for managing things organically

Weed Management

  • Cover pieces of bare earth with a mulch, so that weeds are less likely to grow in the first place

  • Weeds in hard surfaces can be killed by pouring boiling water on them

  • Hoe regularly, and make sure your hoe is regularly sharpened

  • Dig out weeds with large roots (e.g. bindweed, and docks) or they will just regrow

  • Plant using close spacing where appropriate to leave less space for weeds to germinate and grow

  • .... and click here for lots more advice from Garden Organic

Pest Management

  • Encourage biodiversity in your garden so that pests can be dealt with by natural predators

  • Check plants regularly, and pick off and squash any pests before they become too prolific

  • Dislodge pests with a sharp jet of water

  • Learn about the life cycle of pests so that you can develop strategies to combat them

  • Use cabbage root fly mats

  • Use barrier methods to deter slugs and snails, or trap and remove them. Lots of ideas can be found here If you must use slug pellets, ensue that they are organically approved and contain ferric phosphate only, never metaldehyde

  • Use netting, mesh or fleece to cover crops to protect them from pests

  • Lots of information on managing specific pests can be found here

Disease Management

  • Keep your soil and plants healthy, so that they are more resistant to disease

  • Check plants regularly and pick off diseased parts before it spreads to the whole plant

  • Learn about the life cycle of diseases so that you can develop strategies to combat them

  • Lots of information on managing specific diseases can be found here

Further Links

How to clear a new plot or allotment

Information about Glyphosate


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