I often get asked if I garden organically. To me organic gardening is all about being as environmentally friendly as possible using naturally occurring materials rather than chemical weed killers and pesticides. This of course means using alternative means and techniques.
Many of my gardening friends take the organic route extremely seriously but for me, it is enough to banish chemical pesticides, weed killers and artificial fertilisers from the garden. I have to admit I do make use of a glyphosate –based weed killer as this has proved to be the most effective way to try and stem the invasion of bindweed (much of which tunnels in from a neighbouring garden) But glyphosate is inactivated on contact with the soil and leaves no residue, so I don’t feel so guilty.
Organic gardening has not changed in some respect from the way my grandfather gardened when I ‘helped’ him as a small boy. He dug in copious amounts of horse manure (thanks to a useful contact at the local dairy stables when milk was doorstep delivered by horse drawn milk floats), and fertilisers such as hoof and horn, or bone meal based on animal remains. His plants always seemed to grow strongly as his soil was obviously in very good condition which he claimed was the key to successful cultivation.
When problems did arise –and they did, he turned to natural products like pyrethrum against aphids or soft soap (not the kind used in the shower) but a special formula based on fatty acids. More often than not he simply picked off or rubbed away by hand any unwanted visitors.
When I find pests in the garden, I aim to leave them alone as long as they do not get out of hand for they can be quite beneficial in that they attract insects and birds to feed. When there is a healthy balance between friend and foe, natural predators build up each time pest numbers increase, so damage is kept within acceptable levels.