Grow Your Own - organically
The organic approach to growing recognises that all living things depend on one another, from pests and soil to flowers and wildlife, all are inter-related - even us. We are all responsible for how we treat the soil and the environment, to safeguard it for future generations.
By using organic methods for your garden, allotment, lawn and flower beds as well as for your fruit and veg, you can 'grow your own' free from pesticides in healthy soil maintained with compost from recycled materials.
Gardens are important spaces for both our relaxation as well as providing a refuge for wildlife; organic growing is safe for you, your family and the environment.
Tips for going organic
Feed your soil with homemade compost and leafmould
If you don't already make your own compost from garden and kitchen waste, get started right away. You can make your own compost bin from four posts in the ground, surrounded by chicken wire and lined with cardboard. You may be able to buy one at a special rate from your local council.
Up to half of your household waste (cardboard, junkmail, raw kitchen peelings) can be composted at home to divert it from going to landfill. The compost you make goes back onto your garden, saving on fertilisers and soil conditioners.
Autumn leaves rot down to make leafmould - a pleasant, dark brown, crumbly material - great for improving your soil, conditioning your lawn and mulching your borders. It can be used in seed and potting mixes too.
Put up nest boxes, leave piles of leaves and woody prunings in corners for hibernating creatures, leave areas of long grass where insects and other creatures can hide.
Learn about the creatures in your garden, don't assume that everything is a pest and remember that the goal of organic growing isn't to be pest free, but to maintain a balance. Pests are food for many creatures too; ladybirds need aphids!
If possible, create a pond for wildlife (but don't stock it with fish) this will attract many creatures that are a gardener's friend – frogs, toads, hedgehogs, birds and bats all drink from it or breed in it.
Attract beneficial insects
Sow flowers such as calendula, fennel, Californian poppy and poached egg plant to encourage predatory, pest-controlling insects like hoverflies, lacewings, and ladybirds.
Grow your own food
Growing your own saves on food miles, tastes delicious and couldn't be any fresher. Even a few salad leaves and herbs are better than nothing and can be grown in pots if you have no garden space.
Join our Heritage Seed Library for the opportunity to grow some wonderful vegetables from a by-gone age and to keep these varieties going for future generations to come. Make your garden an oasis of diversity in a desert of uniformity. Find out more about our Heritage Seed Library here
Use organically grown seeds wherever possible. There's a huge range of organic seeds in the Organic Gardening catalogue
Collect rain water, and reduce the need for watering by improving your soil and growing appropriate plants
Use grass clippings as a mulch around plants in borders and established vegetables, such as runner beans and cabbages – it keeps moisture in the soil saving on watering.
Think globally, act locally
Make local sources your first choice and consider environmental implications when choosing materials for hard landscaping, fencing, and so forth.
Play to your garden's strengths to make the most of its particular characteristics.
A few things to avoid
Stop using herbicides for weed control, especially on lawns where this is completely unnessary unless you are managing a bowling green. Raise the mower blade to about 1in/2.5cm and let the clippings fly to help feed the lawn, only remove them in spring and autumn and cut lawns regularly so that only short clippings are produced that quickly rot away.
Say 'NO' to genetically modified varieties, slug pellets and wood treated with preservatives.