After a long, and rather harsh winter by Isle of Wight standards, our gardens are finally beginning to spring back into life. And perhaps this can be the year when some of us turn to organic gardening as an alternative. To be honest it is not as complex as many may think.
Basically it is all about working with nature, recycling, and reducing the impact on the environment. One of the problems we all have in our gardens is the arrival of pests, and right now is when aphids start to populate plants. But rather than use a synthetic man-made chemical to spray, who about using an insecticidal soap? You have to be careful how much you apply, so as not to damage sensitive plants, but it will not affect any beneficial insects, such as lacewings, spiders, ladybirds and hover flies.
Slugs can be a problem, but slug pellets could damage the food chain. Pellets may kill off slugs, but if the slugs are then eaten by frogs, toads, or even hedgehogs and birds, poison can harm them and also be fed into their young. So it is sometimes best to let nature take its course.
Even wasps are good for the garden when it comes to pollinating and killing caterpillars, but of course bees, whose species are dwindling, can be harmed by synthetic chemicals in your garden. So think twice.
Looking after your soil is a key aspect of organic gardening. This is a good time to mulch with organic materials, such as compost which can be purchased locally. Another good material is horse manure, and mulching the surface helps suppress weeds, keeps in moisture and adds nutrients. Manure is also good for breaking down clay, helping drainage and encouraging worms, which in turn will also help break down the clay and improve the soil.
If you have a compost bin, now is the right time to turn the compost, and the more you manage it the better it becomes. If your compost comprises mainly grass clippings then make sure you work in twigs and the likes of uncooked fruit and vegetable peelings, leaves, and even tea bags and egg shells, to help break it down. If you turn your compost regularly, it is normally ready to use as mulch within a year.
This is the season for planting bare root plants, often a cheaper and more successful way of planting trees and hedging plants. But if you buy plants in plastic pots, maybe donate them back to a nursery to be used again. Finally, if the ground is not waterlogged, lawn care can begin. Try treating with seaweed products, which are safe for wildlife, children and pets.
By Jamie Edwards