Organic growing is something that many people like, it's better for us and the environment. If only it didn't involve more work! However, this notion is a misnomer provided that we work smarter!
Plants grown in the right place, given enough space, and planted in healthy soil are far less likely to suffer from pests and diseases.
To many people soil is basically dirt. The static inert remains of worn away mountains. However this is somewhat off the mark.
Soil is actually a stunningly complex and vibrant ecosystem. The interface between life & death, and is full of minerals, the rotted down remains of life (humus), roots, fungi, billions of bacteria (a single teaspoon can contain more than a billion bacteria and yards of fungal strands) and worms.
And just as the beneficial microbes in your gut help keep you healthy, those in the soil help your plants, providing nutrients and help protect them from pest and diseases.
To improve your soil
Mix in compost and sheep pellets before planting.
Feed plants and stimulate beneficial microbial activity by using natural fertilisers such as Nature’s Organic Fertiliser and Aquaticus Organic Garden Booster. The products from Worm farms (vermicast solids and liquids) are also great.
To learn more about improving your soil click here
- Grow companion plants – companion plants can be used to attract beneficial predators, repel pests, and act as a sacrificial crops. To start try: alyssum, chives, borage, marigolds, and nasturtiums. Click here to read more
- Rotate your crops – Growing the same plants in the same spot increase the risk of diseases. This is particularly important when planting tomatoes and potatoes (treat these plants as a single entity for rotation purposes) and members of the brassica family (kale, cabbage, cauliflower etc.).
- Where possible avoid wetting the foliage of tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and pumpkins when you water.
Pests and Diseases
While growing healthy plants, in healthy soil in an ecosystem teeming with beneficial predator insects, reduces the risk of problems, at times spraying an organic pesticide or fungicide may be necessary.
Some useful products to know include:
Bugtrol – A broad spectrum organic insecticide made with an organic fish oil and pyrethrum. A little goes a long way as 1 bottle makes 27.5L of spray. This will kill most insect pests but to minimise the chance of harming beneficial insects, spray in the evening.
Bactur – Contains a naturally occurring bacteria (bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki) that will kill caterpillars but won’t harm other insects.
Free Flo Copper – Use to help prevent and treat an array of fungal and bacterial diseases. Very useful for reducing the problem of leaf curl or brown rot in peaches. Avoid using more than around 4 times a year on one plant.