Gardener’s Blog- March 2016

First do no harm…..
I must admit that although I was initially daunted by the prospect of gardening completely organically, everything seems bound to consume the precious vegetables we grow before we do. It seems comparatively easy, if I see an infestation there is always a packet to buy, simply mix it up and hey presto problem solved!
The only real snag is, I actually want to eat these plants, and what about all the life I didn’t need to kill, these potions don’t discriminate.
When doctors pass their exams ready to practice medicine they take an oath to “first do no harm”. Shouldn’t we all aspire to do no harm? But can it be done? Can we garden without harming either ourselves, or the environment around us? Is there ultimately some sort of compromise to make? Must I choose between precious time, and having a garden, which looks under control that isn’t overrun by weeds, or getting quality produce that isn’t crawling with insects and ragged with holes.
Several years ago I mefront, bott gdn 29th Augt the newly appointed vegetable gardener at Sissinghurst, her mission was to grow organic Vegetables and fruit destined for the cafe of one of the most visited attractions in the southeast, Sissinghurst. She gave me a tour of her new enterprise and I was suitably impressed, all of it was organic? Where were the weeds? And how could she have so many healthy vegetables to show for it?
She told me she had been following a no dig approach.

charles-dowding-visit-2-9-15I knew a little about no dig gardening, I wanted to learn more. I bought ‘Organic gardening the natural no dig way’ the insight Charles Dowding gives us on Organic gardening goes beyond simple rhetoric about how terrible man made chemicals can be. He goes much further and expands our understanding of how beneficial being organic can be. It sounds too good to be true, by not digging our soil we not only save our backs we improve fertility and reduce the emergence of weeds as well. Why is this true? Largely because that life we could so easily destroy as collateral damage is precisely what makes our soil and environment so bountiful.
no digOver three decades of careful observation and experimentation he has gathered a wealth of knowledge and wisdom, many of his methods use good old-fashioned common sense. By growing vegetables in at the right time to suit there favored conditions and also by avoiding frustration you’ll get to enjoy fresh organic vegetables all year round.
In my personal experience digging inevitably brings our soils seed bank to the surface. Allowing years of seed deposits to get the sunlight they need to awaken.veg garden
Before I had a very sizable garden to manage I didn’t fear annual weeds, managing a large kitchen taught me to fear annual weeds. Working hard to carefully cultivate the soil meant spending hours bending down to wrestle the tenacious roots of dock, thistle and buttercup from the soil. I then incorporated plenty of organic material finally raking until a fine tilth has been created. It’s easy to look back at your handiwork and admire how you have tamed nature into a conciliatory state of readiness for the season to come. Only to find that whilst you were tugging the weeds from your next plot along hundreds of invisible seeds have awoken and are busy outcompeting your precious seedlings, and worse still you have another two or three days on you hands and knees teasing out the interlopers, before all is lost and you have another multitude of seeds to top up your weed seed coffers in the soil. It’s a demoralizing and thankless way to garden.zaytuna_garden_0418
So why does this happen and how can we avoid it? Charles will be enlightening us on how to stop creating work and increase yields, by working with nature rather than fighting it. What’s more you poor back will get a rest!

 

 

 

LUNCH AND A LECTURE SERIES 2016- CHARLES DOWDING: NO DIG FOR ABUNDANT CROPS AND LESS WEEDING.
HASTINGS: Fairlight Hall
FRI 15TH APR, 2016 10:30am

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