Garden Organic promote organic growing and composting, citizen science and research, and seed conservation. They have shared a few gardening tips with us below so we all could join the thousands of gardeners who are making a difference one seed at a time!
Images above and below: Garden Organic
1. Create a climate-change resilient garden
Climate change means we all have to think more about what we’re putting on our plates – and into our gardens. But there are ways you can help mitigate the effects of drought, flooding and other weather extremes.
Garden OrganicUK suggests mulching your soil regularly to retain moisture, and greening up vertical surfaces with ornamental and edible climbing plants, which can reduce humidity, cool surface temperatures and provide habitats for wildlife.
You could soften hard surfaces such as decking and patios, with lawns and veg beds or use permeable materials that help water drain. Grow plants between paving slabs and alpines or grasses on roofs!
2. Nurture your soil health
Bare soil is a no-no in an organic gardening scheme. Healthy, fertile soil, with a good structure, allows plants to absorb water and nutrients, and encourages strong growth.
Garden Organic UK uses a No Dig system at its organic demonstration garden in Ryton, and also sows living green manures. Many of these can be sown now, where there are gaps, to help reduce weeding, improve soil structure and retain moisture.
Try buckwheat, crimson clover, mustard or phacelia (pictured).
3. Swap toxic sprays for bug barriers
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, your finely tuned ecosystem gets out of balance – and pests can strike. When you find you need to take further steps to discourage greedy gastropods or irksome aphids, Garden Organic UK likes to swap toxic sprays for barriers.
Try fine mesh to protect plants from flying insects such as cabbage whites and flea beetle. Lay over sturdy plants and they will continue to push up, or drape over flowerpots on top of canes to produce a tunnel or cage. High-strength, UV-stabilised mesh is best, as this will not degrade, but you could also recycle net curtains.
Cabbage collars can be made easily out of a circle of cardboard with a slit cut to fit the disc around the stem of the plant at soil level. This helps reduce cabbage root maggot.
Get more tips and advice from Garden Organic’s Soil Hub.
4. Harness the power of flowers
Flowers can often be an overlooked part of the vegetable garden but growing them together creates a biodiverse ecosystem for wildlife. Now is a great time to sow hardy annual flowers outdoors and continue sowing half-hardy annuals indoors for transplanting later in spring.
Garden Organic UK recommends sowing things like cornflower, sunflowers and fennel for beautiful flowers that attract all kinds of beneficial insects such as hoverflies and parasitic wasps, and later on tasty seeds for birds.