Organic gardening

KJ Reyland | 05 October, 2021

            Potatoes and Organic Gardening

Recently the boundaries between ‘conventional’ and ‘organic’ gardening have become blurred as ‘conventional’ gardening adopts more of the sustainable principles of the organic way and ‘organic’ gardeners recognise that some of their practices are inconvenient and carry more risk to health and the environment – eg. some organic pesticides, and fertiliser concoctions. 

Today we generally have two types of organic gardener—the disciplined 100% philosophical organic follower, (about 5% of gardeners) and the gardener we can describe as ‘organic light’, (about 30% of gardeners). 

The philosophical organic disciple makes their own compost, saves seed, grows from cuttings, collects seaweed and animal manure, and has a worm farm.

The ‘organic light’ gardener, buys in compost, buys superior disease resistant seeds and plants, and buys heat processed sheep or chicken manure, or compound organic fertiliser, and uses organic pesticides. This gardener will also occasionally use a slow-release synthetic fertiliser, or a synthetic pesticide if there is a need and there is no alternative organic product.    

Hence today’s natural organic gardeners are more likely to use all the science proven, good garden practices of composting, mulching, crop rotation, balanced nutrition, and watering.  They also select hybrid disease resistant plants and varieties more suited to the soil, climate and season to ensure best results.

Key principles for success are—

  • Add lots of compost
  • Raise planting areas 15 – 20cm above surrounding soil
  • Use balanced compound organic fertilisers such asTui Organic General Fertiliser orican 100% Organic vegetable food.  (Some organic fertilisers such as blood & bone or animal manures are low in potassium which is an important element for disease resistance)
  • Select hybrid disease resistant seeds where possible, and naturally disease resistant fruit varieties.
  • Water the soil with soak hoses— not sprinklers.
  • Practice rotation of vegetable crops
  • Practice good hygiene —remove diseased leaves promptly
  • Remove pest/disease alternate host plants
  • Where appropriate and necessary use an approved organic pesticide early, at first sight rather than late as a last resort. Best value organic insecticides are— Grosafe Enspray 99, Grosafe BioNeem and Grosafe Spinosad. Best value fungicides are—Grosafe Free Flo Copper and BotryZen biological fungicide. (All certified organic) These pesticides are safe to bees once dried and are soft on beneficial insects.
  • Encouraging beneficial insects assists in control but is rarely effective as the major method.
  • Companion planting has very little useful effect, and in some cases a detrimental effect. 

For a full organic gardening implementation programme based on science proven practices (without the myths), best value organic fertilisers, disease resistant varieties of fruit and vegetables, and organic pesticide spray charts, become a Garden Advice subscriber. Click here for more information