If green is the new black, then organic gardening is the hottest new hobby taking backyards by storm. Once confined to the uber healthy out there, organic gardens are now popping up in communities across Australia, offering locals a place to garden socially and somewhere to get fresh, healthy produce.
Starting an organic garden in your own backyard isn’t hard and you don’t need a lot of space. An organic garden can be as big or small, and as ambitious or low key as you please. It needs to be located in an area that gets at least six hours of sun each day. Avoid areas near large trees as the tree’s roots will interfere with your plants.
The key to success in organic gardening is getting the soil biology right so that it naturally produces nutrients that nourish the plants. Healthy soil is dark in colour and well structured with a range of particle sizes, from small bits of soil to larger chunks. If you can get the soil right, the plants will look after themselves.
Composting is the key to keeping soil biology on track. To start composting you can either buy a compost bin or make one yourself using four pickets placed in a square shape with wire netting wrapped around the outside. Toss old plants, kitchen scraps, straw and shredded newspaper in. You may have to water it a little if you have straw in it as straw is usually quite dry. The compost heap should start with a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 25:1 which is achieved by balancing your green (vegies) and brown (paper) waste at the same ratio.
When you get a load of compost, pop it on the soil and let nature do its business. The best times to do this is during the peak growing seasons of spring and summer and again in autumn.
If you keep your soil in balance, then pests and diseases shouldn’t be a problem. However, if they are, there is a good looking solution. Flowers in your organic garden can keep pests in check by attracting predators to feed on them. The best flowers are nice flat ones such as daisies. They’ll attract wasps and ladybirds to knock off the bugs you don’t want.
When it comes to planting your organic garden, plant what you want to eat – you’ll be more motivated to keep it healthy. And don’t fret if it all becomes a bit too much – there are some organic gardening products out there to help get your garden back on track.
These tips have been provided by Keith Colls, the driving force behind the Canberra Organic Growers Society. He is recognised on the cover of the Canberra White Pages and Yellow Pages by Sensis as an Australian Creating a Better Future.