the super organic gardener

To grow your own organic food is a nice way to get in the garden, stay in nature and benefit wildlife. Most fresh food in supermarkets is either imported or sprayed in chemicals. But even if you just start with the easy crops (like carrots), it’s all for the food.

The Super Organic Gardener is a wonderful book on how to grow your own organic food, without need for animal products like bone meal or fish meal. Go beyond traditional organic farming and grow food without harming the planet or animals (no-dig methods avoid harming earthworms and stag beetle grubs, and fertilisers free from bonemeal and fishmeal are less likely to attract vermin). In this book, you’ll learn about the environmental and animal welfare issues of traditional gardening, then learn how to be a super organic gardener!

Keep fresh compost away from pets. Learn how to make your garden safe for pets (fruit pips & seeds contain natural cyanide). Use humane ways to prevent slugs/snails, and avoid large-hole netting (traps wildlife), instead apply fruit protection bags (after pollination). Never face indoor foliage to gardens, to help stop birds flying into windows

In this book, you’ll learn:

  1. How to make & buy natural fertilisers & compost
  2. How to grow & cook nutritious food
  3. How to safely share your plot with wildlife

With a foreword by Cleve West (a gardener who won RHS Chelsea Flower Show Best in Show), find more information at Veganic Organic Network who recommend Natural Grower fertiliser.

how to grow food in raised beds

raised beds Gill Wild

Gill Wild

Raised beds are a wonderful idea to grow vegetables and herbs, as if the whole of England bought or built raised beds to grow seasonal weed-free product, it would help stop food poverty and remove profits from big supermarkets that sell imported veggies laden with pesticides. Peaceful politics in action!

If you have hard or weedy soil, a raised bed is like the ‘let’s go bankrupt and start again’. Just fill a raised bed with peat-free compost then plant and harvest. There are no weeds or digging, and you can grow organic from scratch. Raised beds are also good to avoid bending (and also wheelchair-friendly, if set at the correct height). Raised Bed Gardening for beginners is a good book, with plants to build beds with a few common tools, and details on how to build the right soil mix to fill your beds, plus store and harvest your produce.

Marmax Products sells good raised bed kits, made from recycled plastic. Ideal for allotments, gardens and schools, they’re sold with a 25-year guarantee as they won’t rot, corrode or splinter. Only in brown, you can leave these outdoors year-round.

vertical gardening for small spaces

Vertical Gardening offers low-cost and sustainable DIY projects, in a practical guide for growers with small spaces. Whether you’re using wooden pots, burlap sacks or even fabric sacks, you’ll learn how to create privacy screens and foldable storage to grow your own food, using beautiful illustrations, aspirational photos and useful diagrams. Includes tips for gardens with limited light. Martin Staffler is a wildlife photographer and landscape gardener, who lives in Germany.

use greenhouses for winter produce

It rains a lot in England (and is cold in winter) so greenhouses are good for ‘the hungry gap’ in early spring, when winter produce has harvested but summer produce is not yet ripe. They have glass roofs to warm up from the sun’s rays, so you can grow foods not native to us (peppers and Spanish fruits). The first modern greenhouse was built in Holland and became popular in England in the 1800s. The Greenhouse Gardener’s Manual is a good book.

Polytunnels kind of work the same, but are cheaper and easier to move. The Polytunnel Handbook shows how to grow juicy melons and grapes, and also covers maintenance and planning issues. Polyeco Greenhouses cost a bit (but will last years, and balances out if you grow free food). They are better than cheap plastic polytunnels from DIY stores that often blow away in the wind. Their cost per square foot is three times more affordable than glass greenhouses of the same size.

grow your own organic fruit trees

grow a little fruit tree

To grow your own organic fruits is a nice way to get in the garden, stay in nature and benefit wildlife. Most of our fruits these days are imported (even apples!) yet it’s fairly easy to grow all kinds of native fruits (that includes tomatoes which are fruits, not vegetables). Small gardens can grow dwarf vareities that just need a bit of special pruning, to keep them down to size.

Grow a Little Fruit Tree is a book by an expert pruner to show you how to grow your own apples, figs, plums, cherries, pears, apricots and peaches, even in the smallest backyard. These fruit trees are easy to maintain and make a lovely addition to any home landscape. To avoid pruning thorn accidents, get yourself a pair of vegan gardening gloves (created by a Kew-trained horticulturalist, profits are used to fund the founder’s animal sanctuary on Dartmoor). If you wash them, do so in a microplastic catcher, as they’re made from a polyester blend.

Grow Your Own Mini Fruit Garden shows how to grow mini dwarf varieties of fruit trees, bushes, vines and plants, in this bible of small-space fruit growing. Turn your urban yard into a fruit factory, with tips on edible container fruit gardens, and how to grow more food in less space. Grow organically by choosing disease-resistant varieties and select plants that grow well in your climate. Learn how to maintain your fruit plants, for years of harvests.

Leaves, Roots & Fruits is the perfect guide to help you plant an organic kitchen garden. If you dream of walking to your kitchen with baskets of homegrown fruits, here’s the book to help – even if you don’t have space, sun, time or experience. Required reading for tomato growers! Nicole Johnsey Burkey has taught thousands of students to build their own kitchen gardens.

teach your child to grow organic food 

no-dig children's gardening book

No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book is a wonderful book for children who want to garden, but also want to protect earthworms and stag beetles, by avoiding using a garden fork. Written by Charles Dowding (England’s no-dig expert who grows all his own food on a Somerset patch, but accepting that some is eaten by wildlife so he simply grows a bit more), this beautifully illustrated book is also good for children who can’t manage heavy work. Each project is broken down into easy steps with factual spreads and photography, and facts about plants and wildlife, as well as things to look out for, when outdoors.

switch to natural garden twine

Garden twine is far better to support your runner beans that those plastic green ties, which can harm wildlife and birds, if they fly away.

Never leave any kind of twine, string or ribbon in gardens (biodegradable or not). Because birds may take it to make nests, and it can strangle or tangle chicks or other garden wildlife. 

Nutscene offers twines made from flax, cotton, hemp and macrame (knotted). Ideal to support garden vines, this is ethically produced and wound on a factory in Scotland, in many colours. Sold with dispensers with cutting blades included. The classic twine is wrapped in retro-styled paper labels.

This flax twine is made from the linen plant, so biodegradable after use. It’s sold in a recycled paper box with its own cutting blade, and you can buy refills. Made to quality standards in Switzerland.

TerraCycle runs a program where for around £100 (everyone can pitch in with £1) people can drop off plastic garden ties, bags and pots, hoses and sprinklers. It’s sent off in a pre-paid shipping label on the box, to be made into other items. Although some programs are sponsored (free), this one isn’t. But think of it as a one-off amnesty to rid your area of all plastic garden waste. They have to charge for items not sponsored, because the company has to cover the cost of ‘recycling items that can’t be recycled’.

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