Organic Gardening Column

Organic Gardening Column

Month of June

In an organic garden, every insect has a purpose. Sometimes that purpose is very difficult to understand! When ants have buried under one or two or more of our favourite plants/vegetables (thus sometimes depriving that plant of nourishment) we can only see the damage they have done to that plant, but the uses that ants have in our garden are many. They are a food source for some animals and insects, they “clear up” behind us—try spilling some sugar on the floor then sit back and watch—and they pollinate some species of plants. Keeping the food spillage to a minimum in the house will keep the ants out of the house and living side by side in the garden saves us money on expensive toxins and can give us hours of fascinating “ant” watching in the garden! (One of our cats can spend hours watching them march past!) They are unbelievably efficient and their management skills beyond brilliant! Without getting too political some of their skills should rub off on us humans in the running of our domains!

Slugs and snails, a pet hate of mine as any reader of FrenchEntrée will know, feed our birds, toads and hedgehogs – and so the chain continues. This year, so far, has been a healthy one in the garden. There appears to be no severe imbalances in the natural order of things and the fruit trees and vegetables and flowers blooming beautifully. The great spring we have had has given most of the predators to our plant destroying insects a chance and with a balanced mixture of good weather and rain this should continue. We have found the slug population down on last year—a combination of exposing as much ground during the winter as possible for the birds to pick off the eggs, picking them out in the evenings and my home made slug traps. The dry spells we are having should delay any possible blight problem and those of you with early potatoes in, pick them early and they won’t be affected. Keep on hoeing, (the weather we are having is perfect and they die off in a very short while) keep on adding to the compost heap and keep on with feeding. The organic gardener uses slow release feeding to sustain the health of the plant.

If you are growing under glass, in this heat, red spider mite can become a problem. The answer is to increase humidity and ventilation.
June is the month to enjoy the garden. Admire all your hard work and just watch Nature at work!

•With thanks to Sheila Kennedy

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